Polk County conducting broadband survey for all residents

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2017

COLUMBUS – Polk County is currently asking residents to take a survey telling the county about their internet service and how well it is meeting everyone’s needs or not meeting their needs.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met June 5 and heard from IT director Bruce Yelton regarding the survey and what a broadband committee the county formed is doing.

Yelton said as commissioners know access to high speed, reliable internet is a necessity of today’s society.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Yet there are so many areas of Polk County that lack access to these services,” Yelton said.

At the direction of the board of commissioners, the county formed a broadband committee and after several meetings the committee came up with questions Yelton said committee members felt would identify current broadband needs of the citizens of Polk County.

“The survey not only focuses on whether or not you have internet access,” Yelton said, “but it also asks if the service you may have is adequate. The purpose of the survey is to identify the un-served and underserved areas of the county.”

Once the data is collected from the surveys, it will be compiled and made available to service providers, with hopes of having them invest in infrastructure to reach the un-served and underserved areas, Yelton said.

The survey went live on June 1
with residents having until July 31 to fill it out.

Yelton said as of Monday, June 5, 192 people had already completed a survey online.

Polk County established the broadband committee in October 2016 after hearing residents around the county express concerns about having little to no Internet service.

The county met with Keith Conover, technical assistance director for the western region of the N.C. Department of Commerce last year, who said it is part of his job to get broadband to rural areas.

Conover told commissioners last year after the survey is complete, he would hold a provider meeting with all the broadband providers in the area and provide a map of service in the county.

Last summer, Mill Spring resident Jarvis Garrett posted a petition on Change.org in hopes of bringing Charter Internet to eastern Polk County. The petition outlined complaints of Windstream customers and said Windstream is the only internet and phone service option for Mill Spring. Complaints over Windstream, particularly low speeds, are often posted and discussed by Polk residents on social media.

Windstream has responded to the Bulletin that people who live in rural areas do not typically receive the best coverage because of their distance to the nearest node, or collection points for broadband delivery to customers.

Polk residents can fill out the broadband survey one of three ways. There is a survey available on Polk County Local Government Facebook page, a survey at the county’s website at www.polknc.org (survey found on the homepage) and hard copies are available at the Polk County Library and the county’s administrative office at the Womack building in Columbus.

The survey can also be found directly at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PGK7RTQ.

“Polk County is asking citizens to complete a survey telling us about your internet service and how well it may or not meet your needs,” states the county’s Facebook page providing the survey. “This data will be collected on July 31st and sent to potential service providers (AT&T, Charter, etc.) to demonstrate the need for broadband throughout the county. Please complete the survey only once and only if you are a resident of Polk County.”