One of the first steps in improving broadband access, adoption, and use in any area is obtaining accurate data. What is Internet service like in the area? What are Internet speeds and costs like? Is there interest in expanding the network or adding more Internet Service Providers (ISPs)? In many areas that Connect Michigan works, a residential survey is used to take the temperature of the broadband climate. Muskegon County, Michigan, and all of its 27 municipalities is one of Michigan’s newest areas to take a hard look at broadband, and participation has already exceeded expectations.
Connect Michigan, in partnership with Muskegon County Economic Development (MCED) and local municipalities, provided an online survey for Muskegon County residents and distributed a paper survey in the mail as well.
“Our goal was to get 600 responses,” said MCED Coordinator Jonathan Wilson. “As of last week, we had 900.”
Online responses and paper surveys are still coming in from every corner of Muskegon County. This includes areas with strong broadband coverage, like the county’s namesake city, Muskegon, and far-flung areas like Blue Lake Township, which is located in Manistee National Forest.
The collected data will show what areas are not connected, what areas would like to be connected, and where there is room for more competition.
“We’re really hoping, first and foremost, to increase adoption rates,” said Wilson. “We’re also hoping to increase speeds so we can attract more innovative businesses and bring in more investment to our community.”
Increasing adoption rates shows that areas have adequate demand, which will encourage ISPs to extend their network.
Once the residential survey is completed, further research will be conducted in specific areas, including businesses, government units, higher education, K-12 education, agriculture, and others. Like the residential survey, the surveys for specific areas will focus on the use of broadband in that particular field. This data can help to use broadband more efficiently and build stronger infrastructure.
The analysis of the completed surveys paves the way for additional competition, expanding access, and increased adoption.
“Adequate access to Internet is a huge benefit to our quality of life,” said Wilson. “Residents want to move where they have adequate Internet speeds.
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