Broadband survey sent with tax bills
Greene residents found a little something extra in their tax bills that went out last week — a survey on Internet speeds throughout the county.
“The survey is truly just trying to get at: Where is Internet available? What are the speeds?” said Alan Yost, director of Greene County Economic Development and Tourism. Cards linking to an online survey have already been sent out to students in public and private schools throughout the county, but Yost said that by sending out survey cards in the tax bills it’ll ensure that as many people as possible will be queried.
“The card went out with every single student in the public schools. It went out to all the students of United Christian Academy,” he said. “That card is posted at all the computers at the library, we sent it home to the two major daycare centers. We’ve gotten this in the hands of students.
“… We need concerned citizens to take the survey that will ask them to do the high-speed test to see if they’ve got it at a level that we feel is a quality high speed that will take people into the future,” Yost said.
As Tuesday afternoon, about 620 responses have been received, he said. Although county taxes are due June 5, the survey deadline is June 30.
“We’re hoping people do it as soon as possible, because we’re starting to analyze that data already,” Yost said. “We need people to tell their neighbors to complete it, and to tell their friends at work.
“We need to spread the word as much as possible so that we can do this accurately,” he said. “By doing this, hopefully we can get everybody better service.”
“It takes literally three or four or five minutes to take,” Yost said.
“The county wanted to look at: What is the problem? How big is the problem?” of a lack of high-speed Internet, Yost said. “That’s the key to this survey.”
Initial responses are showing that there are pockets throughout Greene County that don’t have any Internet access. But the survey also is revealing pockets where Internet speeds are highest than what was thought available in Greene County.
“Even though a lot of people have ‘broadband,’ they don’t have high-speed Internet,” Yost said. “High-speed broadband is typically defined as 25 mpbs or higher, and that’s what we’re kind of shooting at as a goal.”
He said the survey is revealing that the average DSL on a typical landline is about 15 mbps.
“We’re seeing a lot of responses with the lower speed,” Yost said. “That’s where we really need this information.
“We need to find out every little pocket, nook and cranny. We need to know where it’s at,” he said.
“Once we get the survey done, then we can sit down and do an analysis of: What is the problem? How big is the problem? What can we do?,” Yost said. Options could include “working with the carriers to get them to go to the pockets we have identified as being weak,” Yost said. “Or do we look at doing something like a broadband authority countywide, which is something that orange and other people are doing.”
At this point, the process has been mostly staff meetings with county employees from different departments, as well as At-Large Supervisor Dale Herring (who is spear-heading the idea) and Jay Willer of the Greene County Planning Commission.
“This is just the initial level,” Yost said.
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