County residents asked to participate in broadband initiative

·2 min read

Jul. 5—MORGANTOWN — To get where you want to go, it helps to know where you are.

The Monongalia County Commission wants broadband access for every resident in the county.

In May, the commission ponied up $250, 657 to hire Ice Miller Whiteboard to put together a comprehensive, county-wide broadband plan to that end.

Now it's asking you to get involved in that process.

In the next week or so, some 100, 000 tax tickets will be mailed all over the county. Each one of them will include information about an online survey that will help create a map of what the county's connectivity looks like.

"It takes the information from everybody that's signing in. It has your address. It asks you questions about the level of broadband that you're currently using, whether you're at your house or at your business. It looks at what kind of service you're supposed to have, then it takes you to a speed test that will capture the information about what you're actually getting, " Commission President Sean Sikora said.

Sikora said the survey will also ask about what kind of service residents would like to have and what they would be willing to pay for that service.

"It's really going to pull a lot of information together, " he said. "We're hoping to get as many people from all different areas of the county as possible."

The survey will also be pushed by the various agencies participating in the county's broadband initiative, including the Morgantown Area Partnership, the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization, MECCA 911, the Monongalia County Sheriff's Department and others.

The survey is just part of the information-gathering phase of the broadband plan's creation.

"We're doing a lot of right-of-way research, looking at everything from existing rail-trails, water lines, gas lines and potential partnerships with private companies, " Sikora said. "We're compiling all that information and if, as we go along, we can work out some agreements for specific rights-of-way, that will go a long way in helping us decide what we can and can't do."

Lindsay Miller, of Ice Miller Whiteboard, said it will probably take nine months to deliver the county's broadband plan.

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