ATLANTA (AP) — A mapping program is finding that rural broadband access in Georgia is worse than federal officials first thought.

Lawmakers are trying to find ways of bringing more broadband service to rural areas — and they need to know the extent of the problem.

However, lawmakers have only had inaccurate maps from the Federal Communications Commission, WABE Radio reported.

Deana Perry, who runs the Georgia Department of Community Affairs' rural broadband program, told lawmakers that the FCC maps used census blocks. If one person had broadband in a block, the whole block was classified as served.

"The FCC maps vastly understate the unserved areas by comparison to our mapping. One of the reasons for that is their methodology," Perry recently told the House Rural Development Council.

Now, a new state mapping program using different methodology is finding that there are vastly more under-served areas in Georgia than the federal maps showed.

The state new mapping program involves counting down to each customer using data from individual broadband providers.

Perry recently shared results from the three counties in the state's pilot program —Elbert, Lumpkin and Tift.

"This is one of a kind mapping. This has not been done by any other state. Hasn't been done at the federal level," Perry said.

"But what we do know is there is a big push because everyone knows that the FCC maps are inaccurate," she added. "And where that is problematic is those maps are used for funding purposes. So if you are considered served, but when you, in fact, aren't, you won't be eligible for those funds at the federal level."

The effort also involves the Georgia Technology Authority and the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Georgia's new statewide map is expected to be done by the summer of 2020.

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Information from: WABE-FM, http://www.wabe.org/

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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