As OIT prepares for the new broadband data collection process, we delivered the last data set to the NTIA for the State Broadband Initiative. Overall we received very good participation in this effort. Out of the 121 broadband providers that we are aware of, 109 supplied us with data (90%). The lists of the providers that we are aware of and the ones that provided us data are included at the end of this article.
OIT is now processing the data to make it available in our web map of broadband service, and we are starting to analyze the results of the data. According to this most recent data set, broadband availability statewide has increased by 0.09% and in rural areas by 0.29%. This availability threshold is set at 3 Mbps download speed because that is the closest boundary of the NTIA-prescribed tiers to the definition of broadband that the FCC has been using until very recently (4 Mbps). Figure 1 shows the new areas that have broadband service available to them. These areas appear to be primarily in the south central part of the state.
We recognize that this definition of broadband is not as relevant now. Remember that the new broadband data collection process will not be requesting data according to the NTIA tiers, so we will be able define and map broadband service according a speed that is most appropriate for Colorado’s needs.
Perhaps more informative, given the nature of the data that we receive, is the percentage of households in the state that may receive increased speed in October relative to previous data deliveries. This delivery, we saw 7.75% of the households across the state have higher broadband speeds available, and 8.22% of rural households have higher speeds available relative to April of this year. The reason why this metric is useful is because, while there may be issues related to over-reporting or other aspects that impact the overall accuracy of the map, this become less critical when comparing data from one time period to data from an earlier period. That is, the assumptions and other issues that may impact the representation of service are generally consistent from one delivery to another, so comparing two time slices shows how service has changed based on those assumptions. Figure 2 shows the areas that have experienced increases in the maximum speed available from April to October. It is important to note that these increases are more widespread in the state.
These differences in speed are based on speed tiers. That is, areas are shown as having increased speed available if the maximum available speed in those areas jumped one or more tiers. In areas where the maximum available speed is one of the higher tiers, the speed increase would have to be much larger than lower tier areas to register in this calculation of speed increase, because the higher tiers cover a broad range of speeds. As we move forward with the new data collection process, which won’t be limited to the NTIA-defined tiers, we will be able to identify areas that have significant increases in available speeds using more consistent difference ranges.