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Does this map accurately reflect your household’s access to broadband Internet service?

If it doesn’t, state officials and local advocates are urging you to file a challenge with the Federal Communications Commission.

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The map suggests that 98% of Lancaster County has access to Internet with at least 25Mbps download speeds and 3Mbps upload speeds. Local experts don’t agree.

A study conducted in 2021 by the Center for Rural analysis found that 27% of Lancaster County users lacked access to download speeds of at least 25 Mbps.

Similarly, a study commissioned by the Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County found at least 11,000 county addresses lacked access to broadband, and possibly as many as 17,700.

The EDC’s study identified large swaths of southeast and southwest Lancaster County as having limited access. Other small and medium-sized pockets were found countywide.

The FCC’s map can be searched by address. People should check the information for their business or residence, and file a challenge if it isn’t accurate, said Ezra Rothman, the EDC’s director of strategic initiatives and partnerships.

Pennsylvania’s Broadband Development Authority is putting out the same call.

“I encourage all Pennsylvanians to review the FCC broadband access map and provide corrections,” its executive director, Brandon Carlson, said in a statement.

How to file a challenge

Challenges can be submitted individually via the map, or in bulk via the Broadband Data Collection platform.

Consumers can challenge assessments of mobile data service using the FCC’s Speed Test App, which can be downloaded for free from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.

The deadline for challenges is Friday, Jan. 13. For more information on individual challenges, click here; for bulk challenges, click here.

Key points

  • Pennsylvania’s legislature hasn’t comprehensively updated the Election Code since 1937. So the officials who run elections must rely on an amalgamation of sources outside of the text of the code itself, including recent legal opinions and advice from county solicitors, other administrators, and the state.
  • Entire sections of the code are no longer in use, including directions on operating obsolete lever voting machines and language regulating the use of lanterns to light polling places.
  • The legislature has not regularly incorporated new case law into the code, which leaves inaccurate vestiges. For instance, a rule limiting felons’ ability to vote remains on the books, despite being found unconstitutional.
  • Newer election provisions and old code language conflict, causing confusion, lawsuits, and creating a patchwork of administration practices.

For more information

Pennsylvania’s Broadband Development Authority is hosting two webinars in partnership with Penn State Extension to discuss the FCC’s National Broadband Map and the challenge process. To learn more and to register, click the links below: