Zip Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTA Polygons)
Census Block Groups
The 350 million dollars allocated for a national broadband mapping is way more than necessary. Read through this message to get an idea of the issue and examine the attached maps to see what we are dealing with using any particular level of mapping detail. This is obviously just my opinion but one worth consideration.
I have attached map images of Tom Green County, Texas with the different polygons the Census Bureau uses in their demographic tabulations. I chose this county because it seems to be a decent cross section of rural America but also has a high population density area.
Here are the raw numbers, but you need to look at the attached images to see how the totals can be deceiving when compared to the map:
Zip Code Tabulation areas = 13 Polygons (These polygons are made up by the Census Bureau, the post office does not create zip code polygons, zip codes are linear routing for them)
The FCC already has this data collected using the Form 477.
Census Tracts = 23 Polygons (look in the rural areas outside San Angelo to see that they are actually much bigger than the zip code areas)
This is the level of reporting required on the new Form 477.
Census Block Groups = 101 Polygons
Census Blocks = 5241 Polygons (even in the rural areas these are much smaller than Tracts or Zip Codes). Blocks are the most granular level studied by the Census.
The problem with the FCC data in the current state is, if there is just one single customer reported as served in a polygon, they show the whole area as being served by broadband. We know the number of households in each of the polygons (Census 2000 Figures). If the FCC totaled the number of subscribers for all form 477 respondents (by zip code) and then divided that by the total households, we could have a percentage of the households served within each polygon. This would be much better than an all or nothing reporting method. This would also not cost anywhere near 350 million dollars to report broadband availability to the public. If the total subscribers was aggregated by all carriers (removing the data for Satellite Internet), you would not know the specific totals for each provider, thus preserving private information.
Just thought I would post this for all to see and become familiar with the issue.