The National Hex Toolkit is a broadband planning tool enabling ISPs and state broadband offices to exploit the newly released (11/18/2022) FCC H3 Hexagonal GIS data set. In 2023 and 2024 states will receive tens of billions of dollars of federal funding (ARP/CPF and IIJA/BEAD) for infrastructure grants.
The Broadband DATA Act in combination with the FCC's Broadband Data Collection (BDC) program results in a Fabric of locations and associated ISP coverage data that the FCC has associated with two geometries: traditional census blocks and the H3 hexagonal grid. The hexagonal grid enables an exceptionally high resolution (example) in rural areas, where census blocks tend to be large.
This single tool allows the user to explore coverage and technologies across 50 states, 5 territories, and the District of Columbia. Large rural census blocks that characterize legacy coverage maps are replaced with a collection of precise polygons that show unambiguously where high quality coverage and specific technologies reside.
The National Hex Toolkit identifies the highest quality of coverage (qualifying, underserved, or unserved) present in each small area (H3 level 8). It also identifies the presence of each of the four “reliable” technologies identified in the BEAD NOFO: fiber, cable, DSL/copper, and licensed fixed wireless access.
The Toolkit distinguishes between populated and unpopulated areas and shows the precise number of locations and units (think “homes passed”) within each populated hexagon.
Identifying eligible areas is a complex data-driven process. The Toolkit juxtaposes many of the layers of decision-making information that are available today.
The data sets include:
- Locations and units (the language of the “Fabric”) per H3 level 8 hexagon.
- Housing units (a.k.a. homes passed) per census block.
- Broadband offerings at three BEAD performance thresholds:
- Qualifying Broadband Service (100 Mbps / 20 Mbps)
- Underserved (equal or greater than 25 Mbps / 3 Mbps but less than 100 Mbps /20 Mbps)
- Unserved (less than 25 Mbps / 3 Mbps)
- Federal Programs: Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP), RDOF, CAF II, and USDA (ReConnect and others, current and pending), seen through the lens of the BEAD NOFO as “enforceable commitments”.
- USDA Metrics (Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE), Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), and various measures of rurality).
- Measured network performance data (uplink and downlink speeds), service pricing, and other data provided by multiple third parties (not-for-profit and commercial) and in some cases aggregated by the NTIA.
- Community Anchor Institutions (schools (k-12), libraries, medical / healthcare, public safety, universities / colleges / post-secondary, other / government, other / NGO)
- 911 / PSAP boundaries
- Opportunity Zones
- A vast collection of geographic boundaries, high resolution numerical data (visualized with a click of the mouse), streaming maps, and other tools.
Demographic and economic data is presented as visual and numerical heat maps:
- Population density
- Household density
- Housing unit density
- Income per capita
- Mean household income
- Median household income
- Poverty Line (reflecting HH size)
- Household Size
- SNAP Participation Rate
The Toolkit also includes a set of point data (missing locations) reflecting state-level efforts to improve gaps in the national Fabric. The data was collected over a period months, vetted, accepted by the FCC, and released to the public in January of 2023.
Take a few minutes to read the Introduction (a conceptual overview), the Getting Started Guide and the site License Agreement. You'll appreciate the breadth of what the Toolkit can do.
Some of the data sets described above are available only for the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, but not for Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.
This product is delivered via a digital download.