Yates County joins Steuben in broadband study

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

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, was launched Oct. 24, 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 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, adding, “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 uses an online portal called CrowdFiber, to verify the availability of current broadband services by address, identify actual speeds available through its speed test, and collect information on demand for services.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,” 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. 

“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,” says Church, adding, “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.”

Lawton says people without Internet access at home can take the survey at a local library, entering their home address and skipping the bandwidth test.

According to Lawton, “Paper surveys may also be 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. Paper surveys will also be available at Town and Village Halls throughout the County.”

County officials hope 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 found at www.YatesCountyBroadband.com, and hard copies will be available at locations throughout the county.