Tri States Public Radio Staff
Tue February 21, 2012
Survey Could Lead to Faster Rural Internet Service.
Slow Internet service limits opportunities for business and education in many rural areas. Broadband Illinois is working to upgrade that service.
Spokesman Clayton Black said the first step is an online survey to provide a picture what is currently available. The group is inviting residents, business owners, non-profits and schools to take this survey. It asks detailed questions about what current Internet service is available, how it's used and how it could be improved.
This is the first time the state has taken a comprehensive look at high-speed Internet service .
Electronic invitations have been sent to 80,000 residents and organizations.
He said, “As a result of this, we're going to create planning documents within 10 regions around the state. seeing where it's used most efficiently and identifying holes and gaps in broadband usage.”
The state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity gave the group the task of preparing the plans. It will have plans in the categories of agriculture, energy and the environment, economic development, education, health care, public safety and government performance.
Broadband Illinois' Roxanne Ryan said better Internet service would especially benefit agriculture.
She said, ”Hopefully the survey will determine what these farmer farmers and ag producers need and what they're using right now.”.
Western Illinois University's Institute for Rural Affairs is helping to promote the survey.
The survey is on the "research" tab at Broadband Illinois' website. The survey will continue until March 16th. The survey takes about 20 minutes to complete.