Random Access Memories

July 18, 2017

Internet coverage maps that supposedly do not exist.

by @ 8:26 am. Filed under Business, Technology

So recently I have been searching for a house to buy. And the availability of high speed wired internet has been a top priority.

One would think that listing what kind of internet is available at a house would be part of a home sale listing. But it’s not. And the rare times when it is there is no mention of what the max capabilities of that connection are. (It might be shown that a house is serviced by Comcast and/or Centurylink in my area, but the owner likely has no clue what the maximum speed that site is capable of.

Now, those two companies have a database. You can go to their websites, plug in an address and it spits back what is available at what speed. It’s even mostly accurate. However, there is no map of this database. If you want to check what kind of service is available you must put in exact addresses only and get the results of that exact query only. The companies like to say that a map of this data is somehow “unavailable” or “cannot be done”.

Let’s think about this for a moment. Imagine Google Maps as a database, but not as a map. You know “Joe” lives someplace nearby, you remember going to his house a few weeks ago, but you didn’t get the address. You zoom over to that area, turn on satellite data and look for a house that matches what you remember of Joe’s house. While you’re going to Joe’s house you want to stop for some Chinese food, so you search for Chinese in the area and a few places pop up. You do the same to find a bank and a dry cleaner. Because the database is searchable by general area.

If Google’s map database worked like the cable and phone company database you would need to plug in a known exact address for all of these things and then get a “yes/no” reply to that query. You would have to query, “Is Joe’s house at 1060 West Addison?” and the database would reply “no”. It would not show you the location so you would have no way to know how close or far from your possible mark you were.

So you see the data the phone/cable companies have *IS CAPABLE* of being searched in a map view. That’s what the data is. A list of addresses with the speed data correlated to those addresses.

The real question now becomes *WHY* do those companies not want their data to be searchable in map form?

My guess is because such a map would show just how slow and poorly serviced internet customers are.

Nothing like denying information to keep your iron grip on a market, right?

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