One gem that stood out in a report released Monday by the Columbia Economic Development Corporation and MC Fiber Services identifying all the locations in Columbia County lacking broadband infrastructure was that consumer surveys don’t work.
Many places use surveys and questionnaires to ask residents about their broadband service or capability, MC Fiber Services representative Andrew McAdoo said. But because people just want their internet to work, they don’t know what speeds they have. There are many examples in the report of interviews with homeowners who, if they were to fill out a survey, would lead broadband experts far astray.
This amusing anecdote has a more pointed, serious side: MC Fiber identified 1,110 unserved dwellings in the towns of Ancram, Austerlitz, Canaan, Chatham, Claverack, Copake, Ghent, Hillsdale, Kinderhook, New Lebanon, Stockport and Stuyvesant. Making Columbia County unique is its wide range of internet carriers — Consolidated Communications, Verizon, Spectrum, GTel and MidHudson.
The study is a first step in securing federal funding to bring 100% broadband coverage to Columbia County. Knowing specific places in the county lack broadband infrastructure will put the county in a position to better secure funding from the NY Broadband Program Office or directly from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
It is also a big step in pinning down specific gaps in broadband service in Columbia County. There is significant demand for broadband infrastructure funding and preparing to apply for funding will assure a county’s application has a greater chance at being successful. The CEDC-MC Fiber study helps to put Columbia County in an excellent position to secure funding early and close the broadband gap.