Today, Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. announced that his office has successfully challenged the Federal Communication Commission’s Mobility Fund Phase II (MF-II) Eligibility Map, which the Commission will soon use to determine areas that will be eligible for funding for mobile LTE broadband service buildout in unserved areas. Unlike surrounding states, Kansas was originally slated to receive almost no funding from the MF-II program unless the initial eligibility map could be challenged. The map below indicates the areas that were initially deemed eligible for MF-II support (shaded in blue), based on coverage data reported by the nation’s mobile service providers.
Thanks to a $225,000 grant from the Information Network of Kansas (“INK”) Board of Directors, the Governor’s Office was able to partner with non-profit Connected Nation to conduct professional drive testing of mobile network coverage across the state. Between the months of June and September, Connected Nation staff covered 15,620 road miles to conduct tests across parts of 56 Kansas counties (Allen, Anderson, Barber, Barton, Bourbon, Brown, Butler, Chase, Clark, Comanche, Crawford, Decatur, Ellsworth, Ford, Geary, Graham, Grant, Greeley, Hamilton, Harper, Jackson, Jewell, Johnson, Kearny, Kingman, Kiowa, Linn, Logan, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Mitchell, Morton, Nemaha, Neosho, Norton, Osborne, Phillips, Pottawatomie, Pratt, Rawlins, Republic, Riley, Rooks, Russell, Saline, Seward, Shawnee, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Stanton, Stevens, Thomas, Wallace, and Wichita). The areas tested were chosen based on analysis of areas that were reported to be served by no more than two mobile carriers—areas deemed most likely to be unserved.
Of the 187,397 tests that were conducted, 119,994 failed (64.03%)—meaning that the tests indicated less than 5 Mbps of mobile data service, or no service at all, in areas that the carriers had reported to be served. The Governor’s Office was then able to use the testing data to challenge 13,158.63 square kilometers of the MF-II Eligibility Map—or 5,080.58 square miles—an area slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut. While the challenge data submitted is still subject to review and adjudication by the FCC, it is now possible that a significant portion of the state of Kansas will be opened up for MF-II funding support—meaning many rural Kansans could finally see their mobile services improve.
“Mobile broadband service has become an essential tool in the daily lives of all Kansans, regardless of where they live, and it is quickly becoming a necessary resource for agriculture as well,” said Governor Colyer. “I have driven all across this state, and I know how poor mobile coverage can be in some areas. That’s why I was shocked to see that the FCC’s Mobility Fund Phase II eligibility map showed almost zero eligibility for funding in Kansas. I knew we had to do something. With support from the INK Board and our partners at Connected Nation, we did—and now there is a great chance that we’ll see large swaths of service buildout in rural parts of the state.”
It is important to note that the Governor’s Office’s MF-II challenge will be supplemented by testing conducted by Kansas Farm Bureau, which received a waiver from the FCC to file its own challenge. Kansas Farm Bureau has been working aggressively over the same period in collaboration with its membership to conduct thousands of mobile speed tests across the state—the results of which will be announced later this month. To participate, or to learn more about Kansas Farm Bureau’s efforts, visit www.kfb.org/connectingkansas. All MF-II challenge data must be submitted no later than November 26.