Lewis County & Development Authority
Launch Broadband Survey Project

November 09, 2020   08:30 a.m.
    Press Release from Development Authority of the North Country:

    Lewis County & Development Authority Launch Broadband Survey
    Project

    In an effort to improve broadband access in Lewis County, county residents and
    businesses are asked to participate in a survey to help determine the needs and
    opportunities for broadband in the county. Lewis County and the Development
    Authority of the North Country have partnered on a project designed to position
    the county to take advantage of opportunities that require critical broadband
    access and infrastructure.

    Working with a contractor, ECC Technologies, the broadband campaign is a two-
    pronged effort. Contractors have already begun on-the-ground work to inventory
    and map broadband facilities in the county, including existing fiber and coaxial
    cabling and tower sites. The second part of the campaign is a survey of county
    residents and businesses to determine who has access to broadband and what
    people are paying or are willing to pay.

    “It’s absolutely critical for every resident and business in Lewis County to
    complete a survey,” said Lewis County Manager Ryan Piche. “That is the only
    way we will be able to accurately map broadband availability in our county. We
    have lots of anecdotal evidence, but we need hard data in order to obtain the
    funding and support we need to correct this problem, which hits rural areas like
    ours particularly hard.”  

    The COVID-19 pandemic has made the rural North Country an attractive target
    for urban dwellers who seek more open spaces in which to live and work. With its
    abundance of natural resources, the North County is positioned to take
    advantage of an outflow of urbanites, but must be able to provide the broadband
    infrastructure that teleworkers need in order to work remotely.

    “We know our county lags behind others in the state in terms of our broadband
    infrastructure,” Piche said.  “And now is the time for us to put the infrastructure in
    place to take advantage of those people seeking a more rural lifestyle who need
    to telecommute to their jobs.”

    The number of schoolchildren forced into virtual learning by the pandemic also
    magnified the need for broadband improvements, with several school districts
    reporting children who had difficulty obtaining access to online instruction. More
    people are turning to “virtual” doctor visits and broadband enhancements are
    needed to improve telemedicine opportunities. The agriculture industry is also
    relying on electronic capabilities to help run equipment and allow them to tap into
    new technologies.

    “The Development Authority is committed to expanding access to broadband in
    the North Country,” said Development Authority Executive Director Carl Farone,
    Jr. “But we need hard data like that which will be generated through this project
    to help us decide where to best invest our limited capital to help the most
    unserved and under-served areas.”

    The broadband survey is tailored to ask questions pertinent to homes and
    businesses both with and without access to broadband. Respondents will need
    to enter an address and indicate whether it is for a home or business and will
    proceed to a survey designed to collect information on the demand for services
    unique to their location. The address is an important piece of information
    because it will help identify where the greatest needs are in the county, but it will
    not be released to any third party. Aggregated results will be available at the
    conclusion of the project.

    You can take the survey from any computer or mobile device at this link:
    www.lewiscountybroadband.com.  If you do not have internet access, public
    access to a computer may be available at your local library; contact them first, to
    check on current hours and restrictions.

    Results of this project will create data that will be used to pursue grant funding to
    help improve broadband access in unserved and underserved areas of Lewis
    County. For more information, contact the Lewis County Planning Department at
    315-376-5422.


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