Feds update map detailing New Mexico internet access, revised after inaccuracies

Pueblo communities added to list after being omitted on earlier draft

By: - May 31, 2023 5:00 am
A folder that says "Internet for All" sits on a table.

Taos and Cochiti Pueblos were largely missing from the map until this update. (Photo by Megan Gleason / Source NM)

A federal map, released on Tuesday, lays out who does and doesn’t have reliable, high-speed internet access in New Mexico. After errors in the map released previously, the updated version could make the difference in the state getting hundreds of millions of dollars in grant money to set up broadband.

Federal broadband grants

The federal government has $42.45 billion to hand out to states, Washington D.C. and U.S. territories through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is supposed to announce awards June 30.

New Mexico broadband director Kelly Schlegel said at a broadband conference last week that the state could get funds anywhere from $100 million up to $700 million. She told a legislative committee last year that she’s hoping for at least $700 million.

New Mexico’s broadband officials have been, for half a year, trying to correct errors they found in the first version of the map that federal officials released in November 2022.

Federal Communications Commission chairperson Jessica Rosenworcel called that initial map a “pre-production draft” that was just a starting point in drafting communities’ internet access. She said it was also the first location-based map of broadband access and the most accurate to date.

The new version of the map fixed mistakes in three million places, and officials are still working on addressing another one million inaccuracies states found, according to the FCC.

Natalie Runyan is the geospatial information officer with New Mexico’s Office of Broadband Access and Expansion. She explained at the state’s annual broadband summit last week that there are many more New Mexicans that don’t have good access to internet than were displayed in the first map.

State officials took up over 188,000 broadband inaccuracies they found in the first version of the map with the FCC. That includes mistakes in pinning down communities with broadband, without it or with bad internet in the state.

New Mexico broadband officials also challenged locations that weren’t on the map at all.

The updated map released Tuesday shows more than 20,000 locations in New Mexico with or without broadband that didn’t make it onto the first version, according to the FCC.

That includes 13,329 tribal land locations. Taos and Cochiti Pueblos nearly weren’t on the map at all until this update, according to the FCC.

New Mexico can continue to work with the FCC on any remaining or future inaccuracies on the revised map.


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Megan Gleason
Megan Gleason

Megan Gleason is a journalist based in Albuquerque. She recently graduated from the University of New Mexico, where she served as the editor-in-chief of the Daily Lobo. Other work has appeared under the New Mexico Press Association as well as in the Independent, Gallup Sun and Silver City Daily Press.