Overview: The I3 Connectivity Explorer

The I3 Connectivity Explorer is a broadband visualization tool for anyone who knows that her or his broadband options are limited and wants to improve their situation.

In the U.S., most of us would agree that “my broadband options are limited,” unless we already live in a metropolitan neighborhood supporting multiple high-speed network providers. This project’s goal is to help everyone else get out of the first group “my broadband is iffy” and into a second group “and I want to do something about it!” so that eventually we can all say “our broadband is great!

The I3 Connectivity Explorer views broadband connectivity data broadly through the lens of the places we live: towns, counties and county subdivisions, tribal regions, school and congressional districts. The areas supported lie in the middle of the range between national and address-level. It presents the data in easy to interpret maps, charts, and tables at a variety of resolutions.

The application combines data from U.S. Government agencies — FCC, Census, EPA, USDA, The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) — and other public sources such as the Measurement Lab (M-Lab) and the ProPublica Congress API. It then localizes the national data to locations of interest. The tool provides information about the Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) already active and shows where they operate.

As a stand-alone application, the I3 Connectivity Explorer provides background data about Internet connectivity together with solid information about how to interpret that data. Used in support of a broadband planning team, the I3 Connectivity Explorer helps your team and your community to ask better questions sooner. At a time when the Federal and State standards are evolving and future demands are growing, the I3 Connectivity Explorer will help you to understand your current situation.

You can use the jumpstart guide to get started. A good example of how school administrators can use the tool is found in the Digital Equity Data Profile. Subscribe to the mailing list to stay up to date with recent changes. For more about the application, see A Short History of the I3 Connectivity Explorer.


I3 Connectivity Explorer Update: New FCC Data

Let’s all take a moment to celebrate! With the passage of the Infrastructure bill last week, broadband is officially infrastructure. “Retirement” Update: The Center for Internet as Infrastructure is continuing to work with an (unnamed) organization which has offered to support and maintain the I3 Connectivity Explorer. An announcement is expected soon. Version Update: Updated …

Version update

Updated in Version 0.33: The wireless coverage menus now include an option for 5G-NR. The wireless comparison chart was updated and corrected. The FCC provider tables now use tabs when displaying data across multiple locations. Most tables can now be downloaded as CSV files. Improved support for small screens.

Status update

There have been several updates to the I3 Connectivity Explorer and the I3 Telegraph (our user-support and discussion forum). The data sources are currently in sync with the Census ACS 2015-2019 release of December, 2020, and  current FCC releases.

Internet is Infrastructure

Internet connectivity (the lower-level, packet-shipping parts) in the U.S. is presently in a transition from privately-held and operated ventures into fundamental infrastructure. This transition is following the historical paths taken by other aspect of our infrastructure, like water, gas, and the electrical grid. Each of these started out as a novel invention, and each became so essential to modern living and the economy that they became “infrastructure”.

The transition into infrastructure is never quick, nor easily accomplished. For example, it took social intervention — organized through government agencies and deployed via public-private partnerships — to complete rural electrification. The existing electric companies were strong influencers throughout the process. The effort gave rise to electric coops in areas where it was too costly for a single investor (e.g. a electric company) to build out.

It is past time to be thinking about this process, what it will mean, and how it will be accomplished. The transition already underway, yet the timeline remains indistinct. The starting point is to look at where we are now, both in terms of deployment and policy, and then to look towards a future of trusted, reliable, affordable, and ubiquitous connectivity on top of which communities and companies thrive. Please join!

Stay in touch!

The Center for Internet as Infrastructure manages two mailing lists: one for general announcements and one for users of the I3 Connectivity Explorer. Please join us there, or on the I3 Telegraph, the forum for Internet as Infrastructure.

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