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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

May 20, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Check your broadband options, with new interactive map

If you’re curious about what sort of broadband is available in your neighborhood, check out the new interactive map released today by the state of Washington’s Department of Information Services.

After you enter an address, the map lists broadband providers in that area, the technology they use and their advertised upload and download speeds.

Additional map layers that can be displayed include population, age, median income, education level, land use and small business locations.

The state also is offering a link to an Internet connection speed test to see how fast your service really is, plus an optional survey for reporting your situation.

It’s part of an effort to improve broadband infrastructure by first establishing what services are offered. The state worked with Sanborn Map Co. and Applied Geographics on the map, which was funded by the state and a National Telecommunications and Information Administration grant.

An opening day rush overwhelmed the site today, making it slow to load, but the state was adding another server to handle the demand.

The NTIA’s also building a national broadband map using up to $350 million that it was allocated from last year’s stimulus bill.

Washington’s map is kind of interesting, and lawmakers will no doubt refer to it as they debate ways to improve broadband service.

But it would help the debate if it provided details about which services people are actually using in a particular area. It would also be more useful to consumers if it displayed the offered or average prices for the various services available to them.

Results for several residential locations I checked also blended consumer and business services, which may confuse consumers. For instance, I compared my neighborhood with that of Bill Gates, and we both had the same options: DSL from Qwest, cable from Comcast and business DSL from Covad. Wireless broadband offered by Clearwire and under testing by Verizon wasn’t mentioned.

Also cool are the accompanying gallery of maps showing broadband and wireless availability across the state. A sample, showing maximum speeds across the state:

broadband.JPG

Comments | More in | Topics: broadband, Broadband, Public policy

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