The Office of Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi (BEAM) has launched a new website to record internet speeds and gather information about internet usage and availability.
BEAM intends to use this information to create a unique and updated Mississippi broadband map that is critical for expanding broadband infrastructure in the state.
The data collected is particularly important because Mississippi’s portion of federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s (IIJA) Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program will be determined by the number of unserved and underserved locations in the state.
Over the next few months, BEAM will be using data collected from its new website to challenge inaccuracies on the current federal map, which will be used in July 2023, to allocate funding among all 50 states. The federal map was recently released and does not accurately reflect broadband access and availability in Mississippi.
“High-speed broadband access lays the foundation for improving education, bolstering economic development, and increasing access to medical care for Mississippians,” Governor Tate Reeves said. “This is why it is critically important that accurate maps are produced which properly recognize existing coverage and any gaps across our state.”
The new website uses three separate methods to evaluate internet speeds and includes a short survey about internet usage. If a location has no service at all, users can indicate that on the website when accessed through cell service or while at a location that does have service. The website does not gather or disclose any personal information.
“You can go to that website. It takes probably two minutes. When you go to that website, it will run three different speed tests so that we can get an accurate assessment of what the speed is at your home or at your business,” BEAM Director Sally Doty said on The Gallo Show. “Our office has been compiling data and working with a mapping consultant to prepare for the release of the FCC map in November. We knew the initial map would not show a true picture of broadband service in Mississippi and our office is ready to engage in the challenge process so Mississippi will be fairly represented.”
Watch Doty elaborate on Mississippi’s broadband expansion efforts in the interview below.