the FCC's broadband web site and use their broadband testing widget. That will help them build a map of broadband access around the country.
A part of the overall stimulus package is funding to improve Americans' access to the internet via broadband -- to ensure access to rich content, audio, video, and really fast data transfer. To spend that money wisely, the feds need to have a clear picture of where there is strong broadband and where there is not. They need a detailed map of broadband access. They need geospatial data about it.
Think for a moment about the pissing match between ATT and Verizon in those annoying cell-phone commercials. It comes down to dueling versions of maps of "3G" access. Which one is right? Can we really take ATT's word, or Verizon's word? Not really.
That's why we need independent information on what is the true broadband picture. Where is wired access? Where is wireless?
Many of the states (including Delaware, over at DTI) are working on broadband mapping using federal grants to gather data from providers and work with the public. In support of this, the FCC has created, and this week released, a widget that combines collection of "where" information (the geospatial part) with existing broadband speed testers (the data part).
I heard an announcement of the new widget at this week's mid-year conference of the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), in Annapolis. The new Geospatial Information Officer (GIO) at the FCC is the former GIS coordinator of California, Mike Byrne, long a respected NGSIC member. He announced plans for the widget on Monday and sent word on Thursday that it was live.
I've written different versions of this post on the NSGIC blog and on my State of Delaware GIS coordination blog. But this widget isn't just meant for GIS geeks, it's meant for all of us.
So take a minute or two and test your speed. Help the feds use actual data to spend our money wisely.