Mapping Review Update
The Illinois Office of Broadband is currently reviewing first-round Connect Illinois grant applications, as well as mapping review feedback from incumbent broadband providers. More information on this process is included below.
We received feedback challenging 30 of our first-round applications. Thirteen of the applications were challenged on grounds that broadband service in all or part of the proposed project area exceeds the grant eligibility threshold of 100/20 Mbps wireline service (that is, areas that we consider either unserved or underserved).
These mapping review challenges are included as a layer in the 2020 Proposals Map. Applicants whose applications have been challenged through this mapping review process have been contacted individually for additional feedback. Both the applicant and the “challenger” in the mapping review process will be contacted prior to any grant awards.
Mapping Review Overview
To assist the mapping review process the Illinois Office of Broadband created the 2020 Proposals Map soon), which includes information submitted by grant applicants. This map builds upon our existing Wireline Service Map that offers broadband service level data obtained through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Although this FCC data is flawed and tends to overstate broadband access on a census-block basis, it’s the best information we have available for public review as we work toward better, state-specific mapping.
Before Connect Illinois broadband grants are awarded, applicants will have an opportunity to challenge the accuracy of the Wireline Service Map. Likewise, incumbent broadband providers will be allowed to challenge the eligibility of a grant application on the basis of current available broadband service or near-term planned broadband deployment.
In May, Illinois broadband providers were asked to reconcile these mapping layers against their own broadband service data and deployment plans. Specifically, the Office of Broadband asked for shapefiles and/or specific location addresses that could demonstrate service at or above the program speed thresholds of 25/3 Mbps and/or 100/20 Mbps, respectively.
This mapping review began a conversation between the Office of Broadband and the incumbent provider. Areas under mapping review will be posted on the Connect Illinois website, and applicants will be given an opportunity to respond as well. The grants process is intended to proceed as follows:
- Application window & deadline
- 2020 Proposals Map posted
- Mapping Review: incumbent feedback
- Mapping Review: applicant feedback
- Mapping Review: decision
- Grant Awards
No awards will be made without an opportunity for dialogue on the mapping and service levels in question. The Office of Broadband is committed to making this process as user-friendly and transparent as reasonably possible, and we intend to learn and apply what we can from the processes introduced during the first round of the Connect Illinois grant program. To this end, we welcome all feedback.
More on Maps & Data
Existing broadband maps available to the public often overstate service and inaccurately paint large swaths of rural areas and entire urban blocks as having service that quite simply does not exist. The Illinois Office of Broadband is working hard to produce maps that more accurately reflect reality; the maps will be available in 2020 and will reflect data collected from broadband providers and confirmed through field testing and consumer experience.
Meantime, Connect Illinois will rely upon maps that use flawed FCC Form 477 data, which report broadband service levels on a census-block basis. To the extent these maps overstate service, potential grant applicants and the general public are welcome to challenge the accuracy of the maps.
To be eligible for Connect Illinois broadband funding, grant applicants must propose expanded broadband service and/or infrastructure for unserved or underserved areas – or demonstrate that the maps overstate service in a given area.
Illinois Economic Development Regions
In order to achieve geographic balance throughout the state in awarding grants, Connect Illinois applications may be considered on a regional basis per the 10 designated state economic development regions of Illinois.