How to Prepare for Challenges on FCC DATA Maps & Fund Broadband Mapping Efforts

By: Hailey Farrow, Marketing Manager on behalf of CostQuest Associates.

With the FCC DATA Maps likely to release in the latter half of November, whether your organization is looking to receive BEAD funding or not, government entities, ISPs, and other stakeholders can prepare their broadband mapping processes for the next round of challenges to improve the accuracy of the FCC Broadband DATA Maps. Outlined below are ways organizations can prepare for the next phase in the Broadband Data Collection Challenge Process, and how to leverage BEAD funding for data collection, broadband mapping, and other planning functions.

(*Note other funding programs outline data collection and broadband mapping as eligible uses of grant funding. Read each broadband funding program’s eligible use of grant funds for details on what that particular funding can be used to support.)

What can entities do now to prepare for the FCC DATA Maps release?

Per NTIA’s FAQ, they recommend in preparation for the FCC DATA Maps release and the Challenge Process, Eligible Entities can work to “improve their data collection and analysis efforts by identifying existing pertinent data sources,” and leverage other relevant data sources available such as:

  • NTIA’s Broadband Indicators of Need Map
  • American Community Survey
  • National Broadband Availability Map
  • Other commercial data sources

Eligible Entities can also work to collect relevant data and information on:

  • Broadband Infrastructure availability
  • Broadband access and adoption/use

To develop and update a comprehensive broadband map at the location level.

How can Eligible Entities for BEAD funding use Initial Planning Funds to support broadband mapping?

Initial Planning Funds may be used for the following planning and pre-deployment activities related to broadband mapping:

  • Research and data collection, including initial identification of unserved locations and underserved locations (consistent with the rules, regulations, and process the Commission has established for making these determinations in the Broadband DATA Maps).
  • Asset mapping across the Eligible Entity to catalog broadband adoption, affordability, equity, access, and deployment activities occurring within the Eligible Entity.
  • Conducting surveys of unserved, underserved, and underrepresented communities to better understand barriers to adoption.

What other activities can BEAD Initial Planning Funds support?

Initial Planning Funds may be used for the following planning and pre-deployment activities: 

  • The development of a preliminary budget for pre-planning activities.
  • Publications, outreach, and communications support related to broadband planning, deployment, mapping, equity, and adoption.
  • Providing technical assistance to potential sub-grantees, including through workshops and events.
  • Training for employees of the broadband program or office of the Eligible Entity or employees of political subdivisions of the Eligible Entity, and related staffing capacity or consulting or contracted support to effectuate the goals of the BEAD Program.
  • Establishing, operating, or increasing the capacity of a broadband office that oversees broadband programs and broadband deployment in an Eligible Entity.
  • Costs associated with meeting the local coordination requirements in Section IV.C.1c of this NOFO include capacity building at the local and regional levels or contracted support.
  • Reasonable post-NOFO, pre-initial Planning Funds expenses in an amount not to exceed $100,000 relating to the preparation of program submissions to NTIA (such as the Letter of Intent) or adding additional capacity to State or Territorial broadband offices in preparation for the BEAD Program may be reimbursed if they are incurred after the publication date of this NOFO and prior to the date of issuance of the grant award from NTIA.
  • Other uses are approved in advance by writing to the Assistant Secretary (including in response to an Eligible Entity’s request) that support the goals of the Program.

Links to free data and mapping platforms to support broadband mapping:

Data Sources:

Mapping Platforms:

Links to commercial data sources & mapping platforms:

Data Sources:

Mapping Platforms:


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), are not responsible for the information or views in this communication and are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of such information or views.

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