Polk wants to meet with broadband carriers following survey

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2017

County received 679 responses

COLUMBUS – A survey asking Polk County residents about their current broadband service received 679 responses with the survey closing on July 31.

The survey had been available since June 1.

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The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday, Aug. 7 and heard from MIS director Bruce Yelton.

Yelton said the county’s responses included 644 online and 35 handwritten.

The county is in the process of analyzing the data so they can get the information out to broadband providers.

“Hopefully we can get some interest in expanding our coverage,” Yelton said.

County manager Marche Pittman asked how long it will take to get the data together.

Yelton said David Weisgerber, GISP should have it together in the next couple of weeks.

Pittman said he thinks it would be good to show broadband providers how important commissioners see broadband for the citizens of the county. He said he’d check with other counties to see how they’ve handled getting better service, but he thinks the county should hold a work session.

Commissioner vice chair Jake Johnson said he’d like to see broadband providers come and sit down for a roundtable session with commissioners.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson asked Yelton how the county advertised the survey.

Yelton said the county put word out on Facebook, the county’s website and had brochures throughout the county.

He said the people who are happy with their service likely didn’t fill out a survey.

Pittman said most of the poor service is out in the county. The towns of Columbus and Tryon and City of Saluda likely have decent service, Pittman said.

“So 600-something (surveys) isn’t a low number,” Pittman said.

Pittman said the data should be ready by the end of the month and suggested the county schedule a meeting with providers in September.

Commissioners set up a broadband committee last year and after several meetings the committee came up with questions to identify broadband needs of the county. The survey asked, among other things, if residents had internet access and if they feel it is adequate. The committee was established after residents expressed concerns about having little to no internet access, particularly in the unincorporated parts of the county.

Polk County is working with Keith Conover, technical assistance director for the western region of the N.C. Department of Commerce, who will help coordinate a meeting with broadband providers in the area and provide a map of service in the county.