WATERTOWN — Jefferson County residents and businesses are invited to let the Development Authority of the North Country know the true state of their internet access, whether it be passable, too slow or even nonexistent.
An online survey was launched Friday that asks people whether or not they have internet access, the quality of service for those that do have access and how much people would be willing to pay for the worldwide web at what is considered high speed by the FCC, 25 mbps download speed.
“Jefferson County still has geographic areas that are unserved and even more that are under-served in terms of broadband access,” Jefferson County Deputy County Administrator Sarah H. Baldwin said in the news release on the survey. “It’s important that all county residents complete the survey in order for us to get an accurate picture of where the needs are. This will provide us with the data we need to develop a plan to address those needs.”
Although survey participants are asked to enter an address and to indicate if they are responding as a resident or a business, none of the information provided will be shared with companies or organizations not involved in the study.
The answers to these two questions triggers other survey questions that are specifically related to internet services in that area.
Participating seasonal residents are asked to use their local address in Jefferson County.
“Even if residents are satisfied with their broadband access, choices and costs, we still encourage them to take the survey so we get a more complete picture of the status of broadband in our county,” Baldwin said.
With high-speed internet becoming vital for everything from schooling to work to medical appointments and staying connected with friends and families during the COVID-19 pandemic, the limits of broadband access in the area is of more concern than ever before, said DANC spokesperson Laurie A. Marr.
“The data generated through this project will ... help us collectively determine the best way to ensure the needs of Jefferson County residents are met,” said Development Authority Executive Director Carl E. Farone Jr. via a news release.
Information gathered through the study will be compiled, made available to the public and used by the development authority to find grant funding opportunities to fill the broadband gaps in the county that could include increasing its existing broadband network to connect more consumers with internet carriers.
The survey is one part of a broadband study being performed by Penfield-based ECC Technologies. The process of taking inventory of all available broadband infrastructure like fiber optic cables, coaxial cabling and tower sites throughout the county has already begun, according to Mrs. Marr.
That information will then be mapped to help determine if existing infrastructure can be better utilized and highlight gaps needing to be filled.
The DANC broadband survey will be completed in Lewis County on Jan. 31 and will begin in St. Lawrence County at some point in February.
Jefferson County residents and businesses can take the survey by going to www.jeffersoncountybroadband.com.
Mrs. Marr recommended that people who do not have internet access can go to their local libraries to use public access computers but should call first to check availability and potential COVID-19 restrictions.
For more information, call the Jefferson County Planning Department at 315-785-3144.