The Lewis County (NY) Legislature has joined forces with the North Country Development Authority to determine which areas lack or only have access to slow broadband service via an online survey. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for adequate internet for remote work, and virtual schooling in the rural county, reported Government Technology.
The online survey, which will cost the county and Development Authority $62,000, is now available. The initiative will run for two months and allow participants to test internet speed – upload and download capabilities. According to Government Technology, the survey responses will help determine if current speeds are sufficient. The survey’s objective is two-fold: compile a list of all “terrestrial broadband” infrastructure and understand how residents utilize (or would like to use) broadband at home and for business. The results of the survey will be compiled and mapped.
Due to the pandemic, Laurie Marr, Director of Communications for the Authority, said they are working on several outreach options that respect health protocols. According to Planning Director Casandra Buell, “I can help people fill out their surveys over the phone, put in their information for them, or I can send them a hard copy of the survey with envelopes so they can send it back. We’re willing to go above and beyond just to make sure that the surveys are filled out.”
Marr noted that the Authority owns and operates a telecommunications network providing high-speed, fiber optic internet to municipalities, businesses, hospitals, and schools throughout the tri-county area. The survey results will be used to expand the network and apply for grants, she added.
“It’s absolutely critical for every resident and business in Lewis County to complete a survey,” said Lewis County Manager Ryan Piche in a statement. “That is the only way we will be able to accurately map broadband availability in our county.”
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