Burnet County residents are being asked to respond to a survey regarding broadband expansion in the county before the end of October.
In an effort to expand broadband services in Blanco, Burnet and Llano counties, Connected Nation, working with county officials and the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG), launched an initiative in late January to assess service needs and the type of internet services currently being provided to develop a plan to better meet demand.
“It is necessary for residents to complete this assessment, so we can identify demand and the potential for expanding broadband services in the county,” said Burnet County Judge James Oakley.
Completing the online survey is critical to the next steps.
For each sector, the minimum target for responses is 10 percent (i.e., 10 percent of all households in a county, 10 percent of all businesses in a community, etc.).
The stronger the response rates, the more evidence of demand leading to expanded service, and the more customized Connected Nation’s “Action Plan” will be for the community.
Sectors include residential, business, public safety, libraries and community organizations, agriculture, K-12 education, higher education, healthcare, and government. People can complete more than one survey if they fit within more than one category (e.g., someone who lives in Blanco County and owns a business in Burnet County can complete the survey as a Blanco County resident and a Burnet County business).
The goal for the three-county combined area is 2,076 completed survey, but only 540 have been completed so far.
“This opportunity will be lost if more surveys aren’t completed,” said Oakley, who hopes businesses, school districts, healthcare providers, public safety, economic developers, and residential customers will complete the survey before October 30.
Residents can take the Burnet County survey at myconnectedcommunity.org/ burnet-county.
Connected Nation is part of a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting communities with access and adoption to broadband services that will support telemedicine, school study assignments, expansion of existing businesses, community marketing for tourism dollars, and teleworking.
While having dependable broadband service during this pandemic may be more important than ever before with people working from home and children learning online, most areas outside a central city don’t have adequate connectivity.
According to Connected Nation, many households may have dial-up, satellite or mobile-only connections which is internet service but not ideal given the speed, latency, reliability, etc.
Working on expanding broadband is one of the regional issues identified last year by the board of CAPCOG, a regional government that covers a 10-county area, so its staff recruited Connected Nations for this three-county project.
“We are prepared to help communities find funding options once the demand for service is identified through the survey process; if we can’t get enough participation for an assessment, we can’t move beyond that stage of the project,” said Betty Voights, CAPCOG’s executive director.