Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the map?

The purpose of the Broadband Map is to support efforts to expand broadband access, ensure adequate broadband capability at Community Anchor Institutions (libraries, schools, etc.),  and provide businesses and consumers with the relevant information they need to make decisions related to their high speed internet options.  This information is also useful for policymakers, community leaders, and service providers as they plan for economic development and public safety.

Broadband mapping provides a physical picture of where important broadband infrastructure is available to support high speed Internet access to end users.  It is a means to organize a comprehensive inventory of service availability across the entire state with a spotlight on where there are underserved areas.  This core information helps identify and quantify areas with and without Internet access, areas with higher speed versus lower speed Internet access, and areas with numerous providers/technology options or few providers/technology options.

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What data is included on the map?

The two primary broadband-related datasets displayed geographically on the State of New Jersey broadband map are (1) broadband provider service availability and (2) community anchor institute (CAI) broadband subscription.

The basic data elements of the service provider data are Provider Name, Delivery Technology (such as Cable Modem, Fiber, Satellite, DSL, Wireless, etc.), and Maximum Advertised Upload / Download Speeds.  There are currently about 30 providers represented on the map.

CAIs play a critical role in anchoring the community by contributing to economic development, job creation, education, health care, public safety, and access to local, state, and federal government services.  CAIs may include libraries, K-12 schools, higher education, health care entities, public safety entities, and government and non-government organizations that serve and anchor communities.

The basic data elements of the CAI data are Organization Name, Address, CAI Category, Broadband Service Provider Name, Delivery Technology, and the CAI's Broadband Subscription Upload / Download Speeds.   There are approximately 15,000 CAIs collected for the map; however, for many CAIs only a subset of the basic data elements are present and, in particular, the broadband data elements are missing.   Efforts are currently underway to increase the number of broadband data elements for CAIs, particularly for libraries.

Note that although Connecting NJ collects CAI data for public safety and government entities, that data is not displayed on the New Jersey map.  It is however displayed on the National Broadband Map.  This is also the case CAI broadband information; it is only displayed on the national map.

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How often is data updated? What about corrections?

Any new data Connecting NJ gathers is updated on the map twice a year. It is posted in April and October on both the national and NJ broadband map.

To-date, most service providers have been responsive to Connecting NJ's semi-annual request for updated data. However, collecting data on community anchor institutions has been a challenge due to the lack of existing broadband data sources and a lack of participation to provide the data. As additional information and data is provided, the New Jersey Broadband map will become more dynamic and interactive.

Validated corrections are reflected in the following semi-annual submission to NTIA, which will correct the issue on both the national broadband map as well as the NJ broadband map. Depending on the impact and severity of the data issue, the data on the NJ broadband map may be corrected before the next bi-annual submission.

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How many providers are included and how are providers solicited?

There are currently about 30 providers who participate and submit data.  Known providers are solicited via e-mail for a refreshed data set in July and January each year.    Additionally, Connecting NJ continually performs environmental scans to identify new providers, renamed providers, mergers/acquisitions, and those providers leaving New Jersey.

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How is broadband availability defined?

The NTIA's definition of available broadband coverage is that it could be delivered by a service provider within 7 to 10 business days. 

The geographic granularity for availability is census block, if the census block is less than 2 square miles.  It is road segment for census blocks greater than 2 square miles.

Hence, the map is accurate provided that the service provider could provide the stated type and speeds of broadband service within 7 to 10 days to at least one address in the census block or road segment.

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How is the data validated?

As part of Connecting NJ’s semi-annual data refresh process, data is validated by internal consistency checks as well as by checks against external data sets.  Examples of each are listed below.
Internal “Within the Data Set” Checks:

  • Analysis of data elements for uniqueness and validity, e.g., census block IDs, TigerLine street segments, speed codes, etc.
  • Visual inspection of maps
  • Basic cross-table consistency checks
  • Doughnut hole study for geographic consistency of wireline data

External “Against another Data Set” Checks:

  • Provider name and FRN against FCC data
  • Coverage area against NJ state geometry
  • Technology and speed consistency versus provider capability, technical specifications from standards
  • Address verification via geo-coding
  • Resources for placename data verification:  NJ placenames data NJ GIN, Federal gov’t placename information, and US postal service data
  • Cable coverage data against cable franchise municipality data
  • Analysis of 3rd party data comparisons provided by NTIA / FCC
  • Speed test data
  • Validation of CAI data against provider data
  • Environmental scan for new providers, renamed providers, M&A, and those leaving NJ

Ad hoc validation efforts based on reports from communities and organizations of potential discrepancies are very important to ensuring the broadband map is providing accurate, useful, and valuable information.   Connecting NJ encourages users of the map to report any suspected data inaccuracy via the Connecting NJ web site (http://connectingnj.state.nj.us/it/connectingnj/) “Contact Us” form.

Another important ad hoc validation is speed test results via Connecting NJ’s Speed Test tool.  The Connecting NJ Speed Test checks for experienced upload and download broadband speeds at a specific time / location and over specific technology.  It is important to note that speed results can vary and may not present a completely accurate representation due to various factors, such as network congestions, time of day, end-user's hardware, capabilities of a router, etc.  Although there are variances in the result, data acquired over time provides important information on  typical speed characteristics .  This information provides an understanding of the typical Internet speeds users experience in comparison to the speeds advertised or reported by the broadband service providers by service area and technology.  The Connecting NJ Speed Test tool can be access via the Connecting NJ web site (http://connectingnj.state.nj.us/it/connectingnj/).

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How current is the data?

The vast majority of broadband service provider data is refreshed twice a year.  Some broadband service providers do not participate on a regular basis; however, they represent a very small portion of the broadband coverage in the state.

CAI data is formally requested and gathered semi-annually on the same schedule as service provider data; however, in actuality it is refreshed on various intervals, depending on the refresh rate of the source of the data.  A planned future enhancement to the NJ broadband map will be to include data confidence ratings for CAI broadband data.  The data confidence ratings will reflect, among other attributes, how up-to-date the information is.

Please contact Connecting NJ via the Connecting NJ web site (http://connectingnj.state.nj.us/it/connectingnj/) “Contact Us” form if you have specific questions about the currency of either broadband service provider data or CAI data.

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What is the source of the data?

Broadband service provider data is obtained directly from the organization providing broadband service.   CAI data is obtained from a variety of sources, such as public information available in the internet, the CAI themselves, organizations who serve CAIs, and government entities.

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What do you do if you find that data on the map does not reflect true service provided?

Please contact Connecting NJ via the Connecting NJ web site (http://connectingnj.state.nj.us/it/connectingnj/) “Contact Us” form if you have specific questions or concerns about the accuracy of any of the information on the broadband map.

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What does Connecting NJ do when inaccuracies are reported?

Reports of data inaccuracies are first analyzed to determine the root cause of the gap between what is presented on the map and what is experienced/expected by residents or users of the map.  Connecting NJ does this by working with both those using (or attempting to use) broadband service and the service providers providing the data as well as organizations from whom Connecting NJ obtained CAI information.

One important aspect of analyzing “true service provided” is determining whether the understanding of “true service” is in alignment with NTIA’s definition of service availability, which is the service availability depicted on the map.

If Connecting NJ determines there is indeed a data inaccuracy, Connecting NJ will report its analysis back to the organization of origin, requesting the inaccuracies are explained or corrected; preferably within the source data or process.  

Once the data inaccuracy is validated, Connecting NJ will ensure the correction is reflected in the next semi-annual submission to NTIA, which will correct the issue on both the national broadband map as well as the NJ broadband map.  Depending on the impact and severity of the data issue, the data on the NJ broadband map may be corrected before the next bi-annual submission.

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What is the methodology for the data collection process?

Broadband service provider data is obtained directly from the organization providing broadband service.   Known providers are solicited for a refreshed data set in July and January each year.    Additionally, Connecting NJ continually performs environmental scans to identify new providers, renamed providers, mergers/acquisitions, and those providers leaving New Jersey.

CAI data is obtained from a variety of sources, such as public information available in the internet, the CAI themselves, organizations who serve CAIs, and government entities.  CAI data is formally requested and gathered bi-annually on the same schedule as service provider data; however, in actuality it is refreshed on various intervals, depending on the refresh frequency of the source of the data.

As part of Connecting NJ’s semi-annual data refresh process, data is validated by internal consistency checks as well as by checks against external data sets. 
The final validated dataset is submitted to NTIA for refresh of the National Broadband Map and to NJ Office of Information Technology for refresh of the NJ Broadband Map.

To-date, most service providers have been responsive to Connecting NJ’s bi-annual request for updated data.  However, collecting data on community anchor institutions has been a challenge due to the lack of existing broadband data sources and a lack of participation to provide the data.  As additional information and data is provided, the New Jersey Broadband map will become more dynamic and interactive.

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How do I use the map?

The New Jersey Broadband Map can be accessed via http://njgin.state.nj.us/oit/gis/OIT_BroadbandMapping/.
There are many ways to get information about the broadband coverage for a specific area in New Jersey.   Users can:

  • Use the layer list to graphically display via color-coding the number of providers, maximum up or down load speed, or one of a select list of delivery technology types.
  • Focus on a specific geographic area by entering an address, choosing a county and/or municipality, or simply by zooming and panning the map.
  • Click on the map to get detailed information regarding a point on the map, for example:
    • Municipality name, size, and population trend
    • Number of providers by square miles covered in the municipality
    • Up/down load speeds by square miles covered in the municipality
    • Wired providers and the wired broadband technologies they offer
    • Wireless providers and the wireless broadband technologies they offer
  • Use the CIA checkboxes to graphically display locations for a select list of CAI types (must zoom the map down to under 30% to access this feature)   
  • Click on a CAI icon to display CAI name and category  

The information provided on the map can be used as an effective tool for state policy makers, businesses and citizens to:

  • Identify pockets of unmet demand or need
  • Help policy makers identify where the unmet needs are so they can determine how best to fulfill them
  • Use the map as a tool to market NJ and support decisions for businesses looking to relocate
  • Identify where existing technology infrastructures can be leveraged
  • Help providers and customers find each other

Some examples of how other states and groups have gained value from the map are below.

Utah:  A mid-sized company in the health care field was losing time and money due to frequent broadband outages at a rural office. The company considered moving these jobs to their headquarters in an urban location. However the company was able to use the National Broadband Map to identify other broadband providers in this rural county – and retain hundreds of jobs in this rural area.

Kansas:  The Kansas Department of Commerce and a customer service company used the map to identify communities with the broadband necessary to support home-based workers. As a result, the customer service company hired about 200 workers in the state, providing much-needed jobs in small towns that may have otherwise been overlooked for this work.

South Dakota:  An online training company used the map to identify towns in South Dakota where they can locate new offices, which will support more than 100 professional jobs in these rural locations.

Academic Research:  The map has supported academic research at more than 1,000 colleges and universities and been used by more than 500 city and county governments.

As additional information and data is provided, the New Jersey Broadband map will become more dynamic and interactive.

See the Connecting NJ website (http://connectingnj.state.nj.us/) for more detailed information on how to use and navigate the map.

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How will the map be sustained?

The map is the product of a federal State Broadband Initiative grant awarded to the New Jersey Office of Information Technology by the National Telecommunications Information Administration  (NTIA)  for a five-year period beginning 2010 through 2014 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

In order to sustain the map and efforts from the grant past 2014, formation of a Broadband Advisory Team is recommended.  Furthermore, it is recommended that one of the objectives of this group is to support currency and quality of the map as well as improvements to the map.     

To learn more about getting involved, contact Connecting NJ via the Connecting NJ web site (http://connectingnj.state.nj.us/it/connectingnj/) “Contact Us” form.

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