Faster Internet Oregon Launches Statewide Broadband Mapping

 

A grassroots partnership is working to identify broadband gaps in Oregon and encourage more equity in the distribution of broadband funding

 

Portland, Ore.—A partnership of Oregon Economic Development Districts, Onward Eugene, SpeedUpAmerica, and Link Oregon launches today as Faster Internet Oregon, a statewide speed test campaign and broadband mapping effort that invites Oregonians to test and report their home Internet speeds or to indicate that they lack an Internet connection at home. This initiative will help identify gaps in broadband service and provide additional data to inform the development of broadband infrastructure initiatives. The resulting information will enable more accurate assessments of the connectivity needs of urban, rural, and Tribal communities across Oregon.

“Oregon’s Economic Development Districts are excited to support this effort so that we have the data we need to bring federal and state funding to our regions that can fill those gaps in broadband availability,” said Jessica Metta, president of Oregon Economic Development Districts.

The Faster Internet Oregon website, www.FasterInternetOregon.org, features an easy-to-use speed test and asks a few simple location questions to enhance mapping accuracy. The speed test takes less than one minute to complete.

All Oregon residents are encouraged to test their home Internet speeds. This data will be aggregated and added to a dynamic map that key community decision-makers can use to identify projects and apply for funding. The publicly available version of this data will not be traceable back to an individual household.

Broadband Internet access took on new importance during the pandemic by facilitating telehealth, distance learning, social engagement, and other vital services. However, many remote, rural, and Tribal communities were unable to adequately access these critical online services during the pandemic. Unprecedented levels of federal infrastructure funding are now becoming available to address these gaps in reliable, affordable broadband.

Tapping into this funding will require Oregon’s counties and regions to identify the levels and locations of greatest need. Faster Internet Oregon was created to gather such information using a crowdsourced approach. This detailed information is critical in developing proposals for funding through the Oregon Broadband Office and several federal agencies. Better data can support more equitable allocation decisions to help the locations that need it most.

“This collaborative initiative will assist network planners and decision makers across Oregon in identifying the areas with the greatest need and informing the funding process to support infrastructure upgrades and inspire service affordability. This mapping effort is a critical early step towards implementing the broadband technologies and supporting adoption programs ensuring reliable, affordable Internet connectivity for all Oregonians,” said Steve Corbató, executive director of Link Oregon, the non-profit provider of middle-mile broadband connectivity for the public and non-profit sectors in Oregon.

Data privacy is of the utmost importance to the campaign’s partners. No personally identifiable information beyond the test participant’s address will be stored and address information will not be available for public viewing nor be used for commercial or marketing purposes. The campaign partners and public decision makers who have signed a data privacy agreement can view the detailed data.

To accelerate participation in this initiative, Faster Internet Oregon is asking Oregon businesses, community and social organizations, educational institutions, libraries, healthcare facilities, and other trusted community hubs to promote this effort to their customers and members. A full outreach and promotion packet, in both English and Spanish, is available and includes postcards, bookmarks, a flyer, and other collateral for printing or emailing. Plans are underway to add support for additional languages following the initial release.

Residents without connectivity services at home are also strongly encouraged to participate. They can do so by using a cellular device or a connected device at a location in the community (such as a library or other community center, for example) to access the website and indicate in the speed test questions that they have no service at home. This is critical information for assessing broadband gaps.

This simple speed test will develop statistically valid data to reflect the level of Internet service that Oregonians are experiencing at home and could help inform decisions regarding broadband investments across Oregon over the coming years.

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