Yates County officials have announced the launch of a joint Broadband Aggregation & Adoption (BAAT) Campaign with Steuben County to determine needs and opportunities for broadband Internet growth in the region.
The campaign, which consists of a short online survey and speed test, will be launched on October 24th and will target both residential and commercial addresses.
“Those of us in the Legislature hear regularly from our constituents about the poor access to Internet service many face throughout the County,” said County Legislator Leslie Church (Town of Milo). “Many Yates County residents have poor to no Internet access at their homes and businesses. Outside of the villages, reliable, affordable broadband is almost nonexistent.”
“In order to decide how to get to our underserved residents, we need more precise data on where they are, what they currently have – or don’t have – and what they want from a provider,” added County Administrator Bob Lawton. “We’re using the BAAT Campaign to collect this data so we can come up with a plan to move forward and better our broadband county-wide.”
The broadband survey utilizes an online portal called CrowdFiber, which verifies the availability of current broadband services by address, identifies actual speeds available through its speed test, and then collects information on demand for services from residents and businesses. Officials are hoping to receive input from every municipality.
“We’ve partnered with Steuben County on this regional initiative because we share many of the same problems. Too many of our citizens rely on slow Internet speeds that simply can’t meet 21st century technological requirements – if they have Internet at all,” County Administrator Lawton pointed out. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently changed the definition of broadband speeds to 25 Mbps download by 3 Mbps upload, so many residents in the region have some service, like DSL, but it may no longer qualify as high-speed Internet. “A lot of people are very unhappy with the speeds they have and the options available to upgrade their service.”
“We’re hoping that if we can get the word out to the public about this campaign more people will access our online survey to report on the current services available to them, test their Internet speeds, and report on their interest in having other service options,” Legislator Church said. “If we can show enough of a need and desire for bringing additional providers into the area, it will open up the possibility for us to contact carriers and increase their interest in expanding their services to underserved areas, potentially bringing badly needed competition to our region.”
“Even people without Internet access at home can take our survey,” Lawton added. “They can log onto the Internet at their local library, enter their home address, and skip the bandwidth test completely. We can see that data and will know there isn’t a speed test because there’s no Internet in the home. We’re also working to send paper surveys home with students for families to fill out and return, so parents should start looking for those surveys within two weeks after the site launches. Surveys will also be made available at Town and Village Halls throughout the County.”
The County Legislature and County Administrator are hoping to reach as many residents as possible before the campaign ends. Additionally, they hope to engage as many local businesses as possible to help support and grow the region’s economy. The survey can be accessed directly at WWW.YATESCOUNTYBROADBAND.COM , and hard copies will be available at locations throughout the County.