Carter County residents being urged to challenge local internet provider

Published 10:22 am Friday, January 6, 2023

By Lynn J. Richardson
Residents of Carter County now have the opportunity to challenge data issued to the FCC by their current internet provider and a Carter County commissioner is urging residents to do just that.
According to a letter from Jody Sliger with the ThreeStar Program, part of Tennessee Economic and Community Development, residents can now directly challenge the accuracy of the FCC broadband maps.
Sliger sent the information to Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby, who in turn shared the information with county commissioners.
In turn, Dr. Bob Acuff, the commissioner who represents the First District, is making the information available to his constituents and beyond, in hopes of “holding internet providers accountable.”
“If they tell you the upload and download speed is something different from what it is, they need to be challenged,” Acuff said.
Currently, according to data posted on https://broadbandmap.fcc.gov/home local internet provider Spectrum is providing a download speed of 1,000 Mbps and upload of 35 Mbps.
This is not accurate, Acuff said.
After running his own online internet speed test, he said he learned the speeds at his house were quite different from those posted on the FCC site. In fact, he says, the download speed is actually only about 1/10 of that, while uploads were “in the single digits.”
He encourages others to do their own test — a simple process of simply “googling” the query, “run an internet speed test” — and then clicking on that service. The test takes one click and less than a minute.
Then, if residents find their actual internet speed is different than claimed by their current provider on the FCC Broadband map, they can click on “Availability Challenge” and make the FCC aware of the discrepancy.
“The numbers they (current internet provider) are now claiming is allowing them to block other providers from serving the area — for instance, someone like Skyline/Skybest, a fiber-based provider company that deals only with rural communities,” Acuff added.
“The more folks that do this, the better the chance we will have of getting this superior fiber-based technology from Skyline/Skybest who has funding available to start the project and provide service to our county. The lack of strong broadband service in our area is preventing us from attaining our educational, medical (telemedicine) and economic development goals.”
After running one’s own internet speed test, Acuff urges residents to use that information as they follow the step-by-step instructions provided in Sliger’s letter. They may correct not only internet speed data listed but also any incorrect address information on the FCC database. Challenges must be completed by January 13, 2023.
Questions may be directed to jody.sliger@tn.gov.
How to Find Your Address and Challenge a Missing Address:
  1. Type your address into the search bar.
  2. On the right side of the screen, a panel will appear showing what the FCC has for your location and service information.
  3. If your address is not on the map, select the area in which your address should be, click “challenge location,” and follow the prompts to submit a location challenge. You will receive a confirmation email once your challenge has been received by the FCC.
How to Submit an Availability Challenge to the FCC:
  1. Once you’ve found your address on the map, view the service information on the right side panel.
  2. If the information is incorrect, select “availability challenge.”
  3. You can then select the providers you would like to challenge.
  4. Follow the prompts to complete the challenge.

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