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NLEA Urges Area to Challenge FCC and State Broadband Maps Through Interactive Portal

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a new National Broadband Map. Since high-speed internet is not accessible to many rural businesses and homes in Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, and Emmet Counties, the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) is urging residents in its four counties to check their home and/or business addresses on the preliminary broadband map (see following) to ensure it accurately reflects their level of internet access as well as local units of government to coordinate activities with their county administrative and GIS team to review and file bulk challenges to the map.

The NLEA office and Michigan High-Speed Internet Office personnel are working to challenge the map too, but it’s important for everyone across our region to know how to view and challenge the map to possibly secure future Federal funding for high-speed Internet.

To ensure an accurate map is used for funding decisions, all challenges must be submitted by January 13, 2023.

“The lack of FAST Internet services is a steep challenge confronting businesses, residents, and students in Northern Michigan. The devastating COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated to Northern Michiganders that having fast Internet access helped maintain our economy, helped to continue family and school-to-home communications, and helped life in our region to achieve as near a sense of normalcy as possible,” said Eric Grandstaff, NLEA Broadband Consortium Staff Specialist and Consultant.

What has been discovered during and after the pandemic is that the development of the region’s mostly-rural broadband (“Internet”) infrastructure still lags behind not only more-populated areas of Michigan, but that Michigan itself is in the bottom 15% of states with rural Internet access. Maps that have been drawn were assembled by a group under contract to the Michigan State Government, but those maps are far from accurate. Therefore, the FCC is providing residents and businesses with an opportunity to “challenge” the maps.

Once maps are successfully challenged and “corrected,” the amended areas can become eligible for federal funding given to the states to construct or upgrade new areas of Internet service.

The Broadband Maps assembled by the FCC and the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office can be challenged in two ways:

  1. Individual residents, home-based businesses, and businesses located in Northern Michigan can file an individual “challenge” through an FCC Website.
  2. Local Units of Government (Townships, Villages, Tribal authorities, and Counties) may challenge large tract swathes of the FCC maps. While these maps purportedly show some level of Internet services, in many cases, no services (or no fast services) are available. A process for these units to declare a challenge follows in this story.


With few exceptions that exist in cities and villages of Northern Michigan, large numbers of homes, home-based businesses, and brick-and-mortar businesses are without adequate, AFFORDABLE broadband services.

The FCC and the State of Michigan have map-surveyed the entire state of Michigan and have drawn source maps of where high-speed services exist. In reviewing the maps, many residents, businesses, and others have found that no adequate, affordable options are actually available. The NLEA has found, additionally, that while many companies have claimed to currently provide Internet residential services, the facts are that residential Internet service for the home for many is non-existent. Furthermore, those services that may claim to be available via cellular towers, fiber optic cable services and satellite companies have tied high monthly costs and marginal speeds to them (especially in “sending” or “up linking” large amounts of information, including home video services, video meetings, or remote learning classes for area K-12 and college students).


Here’s how residents and business owners can access the FCC broadband map:

  1. Visit, type in an address, and see if the reported coverage is accurate. You can access the site from a computer or a mobile device.
  2. Residents can submit a challenge by clicking “Location Challenge” if the location of their home or business is missing or incorrect, or “Availability Challenge” if the internet service information is incorrect.
  3. Residents should visit the website of any internet service provider that claims to serve their location and use the website’s “Check Availability” or similar tool to determine if the provider can serve their location.
  4. If the provider does not service the location, a screenshot of their website can be submitted to the FCC as evidence for an Availability Challenge.
  5. If you have contacted an internet service provider and have been told that service is not available to your location or at a cost beyond their standard service activation fees, you should consider an “Availability Challenge” and provide any supporting information you may have.

For more detailed instructions, consumers can find directions on how to file an availability challenge using the new map here.


The FCC allows local governments, tribal governments, and other stakeholders to file bulk challenges for multiple locations on behalf of their communities. Governmental entities can
access the underlying broadband serviceable location fabric that forms the foundation for the address locations on the map. Data can be downloaded here for various geographies by speed for comparison.

The Michigan High-Speed Internet Office is developing several methodologies that it will use to identify errors on the FCC map and file bulk challenges. Those methodologies will be applied statewide to ensure we are able to find all potential issues with the map and make these known to the FCC.

Additionally, the NLEA is encouraging consumers, communities, and any others with a stake in broadband availability to submit challenges to the FCC map if a discrepancy is found. Having an accurate FCC map will ensure that Michigan receives its equitable share of federal funding to achieve broadband availability for all Michiganders.

To ensure an accurate map is used for funding decisions, all challenges must be submitted by January 13, 2023.

The NLEA urgently requests all Northern Michigan residents and businesses go to the FCC webpage to view purported Internet services. If residents do not have access to Internet, the NLEA encourages them to utilize local libraries and their public-use computers to file a possible challenge. For more information on this mapping project, please contact the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office at

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