Polk County’s broadband committee working on surveys to be released in June

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2017

COLUMBUS – Polk County’s broadband committee is working on a survey to distribute to local residents to receive feedback about their Internet service providers.

Polk County residents have complained about little or no Internet service in outlying areas of the county and in October 2016 the Polk County Board of Commissioners directed county manager Marche Pittman to form a committee and move forward with a survey.

Bruce Yelton, Polk County’s information technology director, said he and the committee have been working on identifying the county’s cell and fire station towers with Keith Conover, technical assistance director for the western region of the N.C. Department of Commerce. The committee has put together a draft of a survey for residents about their Internet and phone providers.

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“We have the infrastructure and we have the need, but it’s up to the providers to decide whether they want to come here or not,” Yelton explained. “We’re going to set up a meeting with providers like AT&T and Charter after the surveys have been completed.”

The survey draft asks residents if they have Internet service at their residence, if they have complaints about their Internet service provider and how much they would be willing to spend for another service.

Mill Spring resident Jarvis Garrett posted a petition on change.org during the summer last year to bring Charter Internet to eastern Polk County. The petition outlined complaints by Windstream customers and said Windstream is the only option available for Mill Spring.

Yelton said the county expects to distribute the survey to residents in June and collect responses for a few months before Conover schedules a meeting with Internet and phone providers this fall.

A list of towers within the county was also drafted by the committee and divided into four sections including Columbus, Green Creek, Mill Spring and Tryon along with a map of the county’s vertical assets. These will be presented during the committee’s meeting with Internet and phone providers.