back to article Cheating carriers could cost web-starved Americans billions in subsidies

Major US carriers are exaggerating the availability of fixed wireless services and leaving under-served communities at risk of missing out on billions in federal funding that would pay for improved services. The findings, detailed in a Bloomberg report this week, found that T-Mobile and Verizon routinely claimed to offer fixed …

  1. chuckufarley Silver badge

    3Mbps upstream... modern broadband if you are stuck in 1998. In the age of cloud computing and WFH, that is 45.5 minutes to upload/stream 1GB of content. God help you if your IT department has you connected to an iSCSI target at those speeds.

    Of course, that doesn't take into account the 15% over head of running TCP/IP v4 to transmit data so YMMV.

    1. Seven30

      Re: 3Mbps upstream...

      TCP overhead seems small compared to encryption overhead but moreover aren't most networks still limited to 1500 MTU? Why is that?

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      Re: 3Mbps upstream...

      Kind of amazing that Google, in the course of updating Street View & it's WiFi maps, hasn't done carrier maps at the street level.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: 3Mbps upstream...

        I came here to say exactly that! Google have little to no skin in that game so could actually be seen as an independent arbiter in the coverage map updating. Where are the rogue (or rouge, even!) engineers at Google these days?

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "file challenges if the information was incorrect"

    Good luck with that. I've done that for years and it hasn't done jack or shit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "file challenges if the information was incorrect"

      Well I looked up the new map and it looks like it is right in my area. Better then a previous map that said the corn/bean field across the street could get cable. Now it shows the phone company has fiber running out here, but everything else is cellular or satellite.

      It has a challenge button but I didn't use it because everything seem right to me. I've never checked if I can get those cellular or satellite providers because the local phone company has has good service and reasonable prices.

      New FCC map seems to be at:

  3. Joe W Silver badge

    Data source problem

    The new maps suck because they likely use the old ones as basis and then just split the "pixels". A "has coverage" square mile just becomes 16 blocks (quarter mile x quarter mile) with coverage (for example).


    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Data source problem

      Forgot to add: I guess Google has the necessary data in their StreetView database, somewhere. Maybe ask ethem for help?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US cellular and wireless

    I live three miles from the nearest small town (population 9,400) and about twenty from a small city (pop. 40,000) in northern Illinois, USA. Cell service is so spotty that we often do the"hold up your phone and search for bars" pose anywhere on our property, download any directions at home because there are mile long dead zones on the roads to our house, and NO wifi if we aren't in the house, where we pay for TWO internet providers to assure that most days one of them will be working. American exceptionalism? HAH!

    We moved to this house in the days of dial-up, and it's fully paid for. One of these days we may have to move, but can't quite justify it yet.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      Re: US cellular and wireless

      Get Starlink. It's expensive, but it works. I had to have 1.5 Mbps DSL that had a lot of drop-outs for years at my Vermont cabin. For $50/month. About a year ago my Starlink arrived (after almost 18 months on the waiting list), and for $110/mo I get 24/7 50Mbps download, about 15 Mbps upload speed.

    2. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: US cellular and wireless

      > NO wifi if we aren't in the house

      Is there a problem with just adding a decent WiFi box onto your LAN?

  5. hayzoos

    Start from scratch

    I checked the FCC maps for my address. My house has no service. My rather large shed in the back yard has service as Bldg2 appended to my address. My address locates to a two-family house across the street and west by one house. My address appears with both the correct "city" and that of one 2-miles away and both variations have the additional Bldg2 appended. All those errors for one address and we haven't even bothered to check accuracy of broadband availability, what's the point? This situation is not isolated to my address, nearly the entire village has the same types of errors, and very few accurate addresses. This for a small village of around 500 addresses in under 2 square miles, I wonder how well it scales up for larger areas of higher and lower population densities?

    A quick glance at the supposed broadband availability indicates it is no better than previous FCC maps. There are no fibre-optic lines in the neighborhood, POTS lines are barely maintained and there is no DSL booster between here and the switching office miles away (so not broadband), cable internet is the choice via Comcast, fixed wireless is available but topography limits greatly (maybe broadband), 5G home internet is just becoming available, oh and we do get satellite 'round these parts.

    You cannot build on a bad foundation. Maps have to have accurate addresses to be useful. I believe the paper variety may have been better. There seems to be a notion that gathering all address info from all sources and blending it together will be the best and most accurate. Um, no, that is how you take a reasonable map and introduce the very errors the mapmaker was striving to avoid. The US Postal Service is believed to be the authority on US delivery physical addresses, they are not. The USPS is the authority on USPS mailing addresses. The USPS does not deliver to all US physical addresses. Other delivery services do, but they have trouble consolidating their knowledge and some even used the USPS for address validation on their websites. Emergency services represented by 911 is another highly accurate source of physical addresses even where deliveries may not be made, but there is little consolidation across emergency management centers.

  6. Snake Silver badge

    No, really??!

    "According to Bloomberg, the carriers' coverage maps claim services are available before they've actually built the necessary infrastructure."

    Apparent geniuses them, it only took Bloomberg years to discover and report this discrepancy. Imagine, never leaving a city and discovering how 'coverage maps' actually lie! A sheltered, urban life that.

    Next thing you know, Bloomberg will bother to report that TMOB 5G coverage & performance outside West coast cities suck, and then what would the world come to??!

  7. fidodogbreath

    And the FCC ain't exactly helping

    They're from the government; they're not here to help.

    Well, not citizens, anyway. They will bend over backward (and forward) for corporations, though.

  8. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Telcos can go Foxtrot themselves

    My local telco, which faces no competition, has charged me a Bravo-Sierra "Infrastructure Improvement Fee" for 20 years. The haven't done one damn thing to improve service during that time.

    I got 6mb/s / 768k DSL because that is all the faster it could go. The house next to the big phone box gets 12mb/s. Which fits in the FCC's range of 10-25mb/s. And with block reporting coverage, the telco gets to claim I meet the minimum requirements and get 25mb/s.

    Starlink isn't perfect, but it is a helluva lot better. The telcos can go pound sand. They ran their market in to the ground by refusing to improve services over the past few decades. Now Starlink has eaten their lunch and is threatening to steal their dinner too. It is far too late for telcos to suddenly decide to invest in the marketplace they have financially Foxtrot'ed over as a single provider with no competition.

    No federal money for carriers. Too little effort, too late. As goofy as Elon Musk is, he has actually solved the rural broadband problem.

  9. Grogan Bronze badge

    The big companies probably don't want the subsidies to happen, they already make billions from milking the populace. If the infrastructure is subsidized, they'll be subject to more oversight, regulation and competition once public infrastructure is there.

    If the telcos don't see money in a given area, they won't build the infrastructure there. That's why they claim availability before it's built.

    Never treat the words and motives of bean counters as genuine.

  10. Gerlad Dreisewerd

    The FCC broadband map is an outright fraud. In my apartment complex, one building is identified as having fiber. My building is identified at an address that Google Maps says is an empty field. Plus the FCC map is missing no less than 6 buildings.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      I wonder how these maps are created and updated in the first place? The "local authorities", I would expect to have highly accurate and up to date maps showing buildings and property boundaries for tax purposes if nothing else. Do they not feed that data up the chain to county, state and federal agencies? Or is this all "propriety" information that must be bought and sold in the true blue American way?

  11. JassMan

    Optional Titles are only useful if you have access

    "But almost immediately after the maps were published, the agency faced criticism from state leaders who called into question the maps' validity. In December, Vermont's Community Broadband Board issued a call to action, asking citizens to check their addresses against the FCC maps and to file challenges if the information was incorrect."

    The problem is that if you don't have the internet, you can't see the map and probably won't even have known you could challenge it.

    Just had a similar problem where VirginMedia changed my phone over to VOIP instead of copper. Unfortunately this seems to have created some sort of problem by the time they got to the end of the area they were changing over. TV, Internet AND phone all became unusable with the modem continually rebooting as it struggled to communicate with its masters. Unfortunately for consumers (possibly by design on the part of Virgin) they stopped printing a help number on physical mail so you couldn't even phone them with a mobile to report the problem. Eventually had to go to a friend out of town, use his internet to find the help number. They even had the cheek to insist I return home as I had to be in front of the equipment while talking to the support agent.

  12. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Just a little lie

    If all it takes to get shed loads of money from the government is to tell a few little white lies, those big corporations will run their mouths non-stop. The downside is often a small fine that barely makes a dent in the subsidy money. Heck, they'll even tell a few outright whoppers for money they don't need.

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