No broadband available at your home or business? You better tell the feds, quick.

The state is asking every Michigander to take a little fact-checking into his or her own hands this holiday season and see if the feds know as much as they think they do about who really has access to high-speed internet and who doesn't.

And you need to do it quick.

On Thursday, Michigan's High-Speed Internet Office and associated agencies, including the state Infrastructure Office, urged residents and business owners to go online and punch their addresses into the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) new broadband map at https://broadbandmap.fcc.gov/home. That shows what internet options are supposedly available at each location along with upload and download speeds and other data. (High-speed broadband is defined by federal statute as anything with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second.)

What's especially significant about this map, however, is not only can you see what's available and what's not but you can − and should, says the state of Michigan − contest the FCC's information if it's wrong by clicking on the "availability challenge" highlighted on the screen over the purportedly-available services. Doing so, said Eric Frederick, chief connectivity officer for the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office, will ultimately help the federal government decide where and how to spend some as-yet-unallocated $42.5 billion across the nation to expand high-speed broadband.

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You can also file, on a link next to the property address, a "location challenge," if it gets other details wrong, like having the address wrong or showing the internet service appears to go to a garage.

"The more accurate we can make that map, the more we ensure we get our fair allocation (to expand broadband)," said Frederick, who added that getting Michiganders to check their locations can also inform them about services that may be available (not that they would have purchased all or any of them, necessarily) and then research whether they're right for them.

But people need to act fast to check and challenge if they choose to do so, as FCC is taking challenges to its "pre-production map," which was made public in mid-November, until Jan. 13, 2023. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is expected to announce allocations based on the map by next summer.

"It's a very tall order (to get people to do this)," said Frederick, "but this is the first time the FCC has taken challenges to their map."

The state already knows that, per the FCC's own statistics, there are upwards of half a million locations in Michigan that lack access to high-speed internet, even though, when looking at the state on the broadband map overall, it almost appears as if 100% of the state is covered with fast broadband.

Then there are contradictions like that in Watertown Township, northwest of Lansing, where the FCC map shows one company providing high-speed access to homes along a section of Clark Road, when engineering records and the company's own website indicate that access isn't yet available.

Frederick said his office and others are trying to gather as many such contradictions and mistakes as they can as well to challenge the map before the deadline.

Not everyone may know just by looking at a list of the supposedly available internet services at their home or business whether they are really offered. Frederick said the best way for a consumer to check is to do a little more digging if he or she needs to. The best way is to go to the providers' websites. Most have a "check availability" link of some kind where the consumer can enter their address. (And a screen shot showing that a service isn't available is a good way to bolster a challenge on the FCC's map by the way; the FCC has a place to submit additional documentation.)

Getting high-speed internet service to areas that don't currently have it, especially rural areas, is seen as vital to improving economic opportunities, educational services and more. Last year, President Joe Biden won approval of an infrastructure bill that committed billions to expand internet services, including millions to Michigan. In October, the state got a $250 million grant to extend high-speed internet to about 68,000 homes and businesses that currently lack it.

“With access to affordable, high-speed internet as our tool, we can connect Michiganders to education, economic opportunity, health care and more,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, who has taken a lead role in expanding broadband. “As we make historic investments in high-speed internet access across Michigan, we must gather critical information about which locations don’t have access. The final FCC broadband map will play a major role in our efforts to gain federal funding to increase access, so I encourage every Michigander to check the FCC broadband map and help us get this right."

Contact Todd Spangler attspangler@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter@tsspangler.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Check out the FCC's broadband map, future expansion riding on it