Chemung County Looks to Increase Internet Access to Residents
Monday, August 28, 2017
ELMIRA - Chemung County officials are launching the Broadband Aggregation & Adoption (BAAT) Campaign to determine needs and opportunities for broadband Internet growth in our region. The campaign consists of a five-minute online survey and speed test. BAAT will launch September 7 and will target both residential and commercial addresses. The goal of the campaign is to enhance the quality of the lives of citizens and businesses through greater Internet access.
“While our County has made great strides in addressing our lack of broadband access through the design and building of the Southern Tier Network, we know there are still many residents who have poor to no Internet access in their homes and businesses,” said Chemung County Deputy Executive and Southern Tier Economic Growth President Michael Krusen. “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. 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. The survey is at https://chemung.baat-campaign.com/, and hard copies are available at Town Halls, Libraries and the County Human Resource Center (425 Pennsylvania Ave, Elmira).
“Many people within our County rely on slow Internet speeds that simply can’t meet 21st century technological requirements – if they have Internet at all,” explained Chemung County Director of Information Technology, Steve Wilber. 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. “This is something we’ve heard repeatedly from our constituents. 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,” Krusen 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,” Wilber added. “They can log on at their local library, enter in 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 with the schools on the possibility of sending paper surveys home with students for families to fill out and return.”
Krusen and Wilber 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.
Check back for updates on how to access the survey.