Broadband needs survey starts Friday in St. Lawrence County

Bob Beckstead, Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.
·3 min read

Feb. 19—WATERTOWN — A survey to help determine the needs and opportunities for broadband in St. Lawrence County starts today.

The project between county officials and the Development Authority of the North Country is designed to show the location of unserved and underserved areas in the county in terms of broadband access.

Similar surveys have also been done in Lewis County in November and Jefferson County in January. The data that's collected from St. Lawrence County residents and businesses will be used to develop an action plan to address broadband needs in the county. The survey will be available until April 30.

As the first part of the effort, ECC Technologies, the project's contractor, has started on-the-ground work to inventory and map broadband facilities in the county. Those include existing fiber and coaxial cabling and tower tiles. The second part of the project is to survey county residents and businesses to determine who has access to broadband and what people are paying or are willing to pay.

The survey at www.stlawrencecountybroadband.com can be taken from any computer or mobile device, including a smart phone. For those who don't have internet access, public access may be available at local libraries. The St. Lawrence County Planning Office can also assist those without internet access by calling 315-379-2292.

The survey is broken into two groups — anyone taking the survey from their home or business, or from a mobile device connected to the home's WiFi is asked to take a "Survey and Speed Test." Those who are taking the survey from a public location because they have no internet, are not at their home or business, or are taking a survey from a mobile device not connected to the home's WiFi are asked to skip the speed test and take the survey only. Seasonal residents should skip the speed test and include the address of their property in St. Lawrence County.

The speed test will measure both download and upload speeds from the individual's current location. Download speeds are important for receiving files, emails and other data quickly, as well as support for streaming services such as Netflix and Roku. Upload speeds are important for transferring large files such as photographs, X-rays or complex documents to another location, or for working with interactive systems such as QuickBooks Online, Google Docs or other business systems.

The broadband survey is tailored to ask questions pertinent to homes and businesses both with and without access to broadband. Respondents will need to enter an address and indicate whether it is for a home or business and will proceed to a survey designed to collect information on the demand for services unique to their location.

"While improvement efforts have been made over the last few years, the county is certainly aware that there are still areas that are not yet served or are underserved with access to broadband," St. Lawrence County Administrator Ruth Doyle said in a statement. "In order to develop the most accurate picture to identify where broadband access is needed and to be prepared for funding opportunities as they become available, the goal is to gather responses from as many county residents and businesses as possible. Thank you to all who assist the County in this effort."

"We have heard many, many times over the last few months from residents and local officials who are frustrated by a lack of adequate broadband access to meet their needs," Development Authority Executive Director Carl Farone Jr. said in a statement. "The Development Authority is committed to expanding access to broadband in the North Country but it's critical that we have good data to support our efforts. The data generated through this project will help us collectively determine the best way to ensure the needs of St. Lawrence County residents are met."

Results of this project will create data that will be used to pursue grant funding to help improve broadband access in unserved and underserved areas of St. Lawrence County.