Ray Berg

Deadline Approaches for Washtenaw County Broadband Survey

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The Manchester Water Tower Serves as the Current Transmission Point for Local Wireless Internet Service from Air Advantage.

The Manchester Water Tower Serves as the Current Transmission Point for Local Wireless Internet Service from Air Advantage.

Editor’s note: Also read this week’s article What is “Broadband” Internet and Why Do I Need It?  by James Miller in the Blog section.

The Washtenaw County Broadband Initiative seeks to expand broadband Internet infrastructure in Washtenaw County, with an emphasis on the rural western areas of the county. This project, sponsored by Rep. Gretchen Driskell, involves several city, village and township governments, local district libraries, Internet providers, and concerned citizens. This team is working with Connect Michigan®, a non-profit organization tasked with facilitating the expansion of broadband access, adoption, and use throughout the state.

The initiative has three goals:

  1. Assess and improve the existing broadband infrastructure for residents and businesses by working with Internet service providers, key decision makers and local beneficiaries.
  2. Assess and increase broadband adoption by local residents/businesses by reducing barriers and increasing awareness of broadband’s value to their quality of life.
  3. Assess and expand the use of broadband capabilities and applications (websites) for the greatest benefit to residents, businesses and the overall community.

Several Western Washtenaw townships held a kickoff meeting with Connect Michigan on November 1, 2013 and named Melanie Bell (Chelsea District Library) and Peter Psarouthakis (Sharon Township Supervisor) as team co-champions. The team then developed a broadband survey for community input, which is available in several ways:

-It was mailed to local residents as part of their tax bills

-It is available on-line at:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/washtenawbroadband

-It is available in paper form at district libraries

-It is available for viewing and downloading in paper form on multiple websites (e.g., www.twp-freedom.org, www.twp-sharon.org)

The survey covers a wide variety of subjects, including personal or business need and desire for broadband service, availability at respondent’s location, current provider and pricing, and other topics developed by the Broadband Committee based on similar surveys conducted in other Michigan communities.

The team is seeking community input via this survey. Please access one of the survey locations above to complete this survey and assist the team with planning for this critical need. The target return date for all surveys is February 14.

A PDF version of the team’s January 17, 2014 PowerPoint meeting notes is available at this link.

This document provides an excellent summary of the initiative’s goals, accomplishments to date, and partial survey results obtained through mid-January.

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