How Inaccurate Broadband Maps Impact California, the Most Populous State

By Roxanna Barboza 

Not too long ago, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released updates to its national broadband maps. Federal agencies and state governments use that information to help determine where $42.5 billion in federal funds will be invested nationwide. 

For years, the FCC’s maps have been criticized for inaccuracies. That prompted state entities to collect their own broadband data, including the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”). While CPUC should be applauded for its leadership on mapping and tackling digital inequities statewide, the new maps it released in December show that disadvantaged communities in California are still being left behind.

In July 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed historic broadband legislation into law to help bridge digital divides and provide reliable and affordable Internet access to all Californians. The Bill (SB 156) detailed a $6 billion investment that would expand the state’s broadband fiber infrastructure and increase Internet connectivity. 

Before the money could be allocated to last-mile infrastructure projects, the CPUC had to release a Priority Area Map to facilitate the effective and equitable distribution of program funds statewide. In December 2021, the map was completed. It excludes some communities with the highest-need, including those in Los Angeles, from being eligible for digital divide funds.

The CPUC indicated, in its grant rulemaking decision for “last mile” networks, that it would consider disadvantaged communities in establishing the priority funding of that allocation. Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, warned that, “Los Angeles County is the country’s largest county with over 400,000 households without internet service.” Based on FCC and CPUC maps, Los Angeles County is unlikely to receive its fair share of broadband funds.

If the CPUC Maps are not revised, Los Angeles’ least connected neighborhoods – and others – may be completely left out of broadband investments they need. The public has the opportunity to challenge CPUC’s map and contribute feedback on what should be considered priority areas. Residents can do so by visiting, clicking on an area of the map, then clicking on the “Add Comment” button, and filling out the feedback form. 

For more information, please visit the Federal Funding Account Priority Areas website or contact NCC’s Program Manager Roxy Barboza at 

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