The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Noanet reports results from broadband survey

 


Claire Ward, the marketing and communications manager for Noanet returned to Cathlamet on Monday to share results from the broadband survey recently completed in the county.

There were two major takeaways from the survey for Ward. One, there is a demand for internet and two, Wahkiakum residents are nice.

Noanet needed 400 completed surveys. Twelve hours after the survey became available, there were already 75 responses. In 24 hours, Ward had 100, and in two days, she’d heard from 10 percent of the county. By the end of one week, she’d had 300 responses. By the end of the month, they had their 400, 434 to be exact.

“I’ve never experienced this fast of a response to a survey,” Ward said.

That turnaround was the first clue that there was a demand for better internet. It became even clearer as respondents rated their level of satisfaction with current service in regards to speed and reliability.

Responses mirrored population distribution, and Ward noted that that added to Noanet’s confidence that the survey had provided an accurate sample.

Only 11 respondents thought that broadband might not be a good idea.

“People really want internet,” Ward said.

The graph displaying the array of existing services showed that service is currently slow. Most customers fell below the cutoff for what the FCC considers broadband, according to Ward.

Twenty-six percent of respondents had school age children at home.

“There is an education gap here, if 26 percent can’t do their homework,” Ward said, adding that the problem didn’t just affect K-12 students, but anyone who wanted to take college courses online.

She summed it all up.

“This data is really important for funding opportunities,” she said. “You can take this data to start building a narrative around why funds are needed to put toward building a network to change this scenario, because this is not acceptable.”

The community’s rapid response to the survey also means that more money from the feasibility grant can go towards detailed planning, Ward said.

“Next month, a team is going to come to Wahkiakum County and start doing it,” Ward said. “They are going to look at where the poles are at, where the homes are at, look at the landscape and understand the ways a network can be most cost effectively deployed in this area.”

Then, as Ward would say, it will be “data-driven decision time.” Time for the PUD to consider whether they want to take on the project, and how they are going to fund it, including applying for grants.

 

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