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Last spring, Calhoun County Commissioners took a unanimous first step to try to level the internet access playing field.  They created a Broadband Committee of community leaders, county commissioners, and other elected officials as well as representatives of Kellogg Community College and Albion College.  Willard Library’s Michael McCullough heads up that committee, whose first task is to gather data and information about broadband accessibility in Calhoun County.

“We’ve found that FCC maps are not very accurate, and not a good guide,” said McCullough. “And that’s what we’re hearing from other communities and counties.   I’ve talked to Comcast and other companies and they’re very willing to share their maps and data.”

But more specific info is being generated with a broadband survey.  “We contracted with the Ann Arbor-based Merit Network for a survey to see where the gaps in broadband access are, and what the experience is of those how already have internet access,” said McCullough.   “We want to determine the quality of service and see where the most need is.”

That need became more evident than ever during the COVID-19 Pandemic with remote learning.  Some kids were trying to learn in homes where the connections were so slow, that they barely worked at all.  “I got to wondering at the time what folks were doing,” said McCullough.    “And, I was hearing a lot of horror stories from family, teachers, and others trying to make that adjustment.  I just got really curious as to what communities were doing to bring broadband access to all of their residents because it really is a vital service.  We’re shooting for the moon, and then we’ll see what’s feasible.  Our ideal is that we have fiber run to every business and every dwelling in the county.”

McCullough said there are four goals the Broadband Committee is looking at.

  1. Access to the internet.
  2. Helping residents understand the value of the internet and what it can do for the community.
  3. Affordability
  4. Digital literacy, and making sure people are adept at the technology.

The survey is available online by clicking here.

Once you log on, you’ll have a choice of a survey for those with fixed internet service, or for those who do not.

“It takes five minutes, and it’s for people that are already served with some degree of Internet access,” said McCullough. “There’s also a speed test so we can measure just how fast your connection is.”

But what about people who don’t have access to take an online survey?

McCullough said there are several options.

  1. Take a text survey. Use a smartphone to text @MOON at 855-613-1746.
  2. Call 269-781-0926 to get a paper survey.
  3. E-mail Lucy Blair, Communications Manager for Calhoun County at lblair@calhouncountymi.gov

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