Access to broadband in Perry County was a problem before COVID-19 – the pandemic only made these gaps more acute. Inadequate broadband prevents students from accessing distance learning tools, seniors from receiving telemedicine, businesses from allowing telecommuting for employees, and families staying connected virtually.
State and federal elected leaders have been directing millions of dollars to address broadband gaps around the state. The questions are: (1) what areas need the most help, and (2) what data to use to allocate the funding. The current map of Perry County denoting broadband access is misleading – just ask some of the families or businesses residing in the areas shaded in blue on the map.
To help build the case for broadband funding in Perry County, the Community Foundation for Perry County is partnering with GeoPartners and Perry County organizations to map broadband access, speeds, and cost in the county to better inform future investments in this important resource.
The purpose of this speed test is to provide a uniform statistical analysis of internet services areas across the county, which will assist communities in planning and requesting resources for broadband expansion or deployment. In order to be statistically valid, over 10 percent of residents in each of the cities, townships, and villages must respond to this project.
The speed test is free and anonymous (visit www.CFPCOhio.org to take the test). Responding will not sign you up for unwanted e-mail or advertisements and it doesn’t store your personal data or address. Only the location, cost, and speed test results are stored to show whether broadband service is good, bad (or ugly). The results will be used in both the short- and long-term planning for internet access across Perry County. It will also serve as a baseline for service, so any resources allocated to areas of need should show improvement when the test is run again in the future (meaning public dollars will not be used to address the problem without tracking results).
“We want county leaders and advocates to have this information by May, so we encourage residents to take the test as soon as possible and share it with friends, family, and co-workers. It only takes 5 minutes to complete, but could help improve broadband and internet access for decades.” said Tony Fiore, President of the Community Foundation for Perry County.
Fiore said, “The state is discussing the state operating budget and the federal government is sending a lot of funds to Ohio and Perry County. We can share this data with decision makers at the local, state, and federal level to help guide investments on critical broadband infrastructure to the future of Perry County. This information can then be used to advocate that Perry County be at the top of the list for funding broadband enhancements around the county.”
Don’t have broadband access? That information is important as well. Simply call the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio at (740) 753-1111 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Simply give them your address and tell them you don’t have service at that location. That’s it. You can also go to your local Perry County District Library location and use a computer to input your home and/or business location.
This mapping initiative was made possible by a grant partnership between the Community Foundation for Perry County and the Foundation for Appalachian’s I’m A Child of Appalachia® Fund.
The Community Foundation for Perry County was established in 2012 to ensure permanent support for the citizens and communities of Perry County. A community fund of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO), CFPC works with FAO to grow grantmaking dollars for projects that improve quality of life in Perry County and across Appalachian Ohio. To learn more about the Community Foundation for Perry County and how you can support the Appalachian Ohio communities closest to your heart, visit www.AppalachianOhio.org/CFPC or call 740.753.1111.
Submitted by Tony Fiore