Dodge County Leaders Hear Results Of Broadband Study

(Juneau) An informational meeting Monday shed some light on Dodge County’s efforts to expand broadband coverage. Design Nine, a firm that specializes in broadband planning, was hired by the county to develop recommendations and a strategic road map for better service in the region.

They released a survey that found that nearly half of all respondents, a total of 2,660 people or roughly 7.6-percent of all households in the county, are dissatisfied with their current internet speeds. It also found that 87-percent are interested in faster, more reliable service and that 93-percent believe county government should help facilitate better broadband.

Design Nine President Andrew Cohill says the county should develop a long term strategic plan to get high performance broadband to all homes and businesses in the region. He says this could take two to three years and will require public/private partnerships with existing internet-service-providers.

Cohill does not recommend the county becoming an internet service provider and should instead facilitate improved broadband services by developing partnerships, increase efficiency by sharing infrastructure, and pursuing grant opportunities. He says there will be one-time opportunities to spend American Rescue Plan Act funds or The Broadband Equality, Access, and Development Program funds on expanding services. County leaders are meeting next Tuesday, February 1st, to discuss how to best spend their $17-million-dollars in federal stimulus money.

Design Nine did develop a middle-mile fiber route from the survey results. The proposed route would cover roughly 39-miles and is situated primarily in the eastern portion of the county. Cohill says it prioritizes areas of poor service based on self-reported download speeds. He says the goal was to passthrough some of the smaller communities who do not have the same access to high speed internet.

Cohill adds that the middle-mile route would enable internet-service-providers to connect to the fiber and build out last-mile fiber or expand their wireless networks more rapidly. The project, which was only offered as a recommendation, would cost an estimated $6.1-million-dollars.

Click HERE to read Design Nine’s draft report.