ANGOLA — The Steuben County Economic Development Corp. and Angola Area Chamber of Commerce have teamed up to encourage Steuben County residents and businesses to participate in an Indiana Farm Bureau project to better determine broadband needs in Indiana, particularly in rural areas.
Hoosiers are encouraged to test their internet speed at infb.org/speedtest to help build a database on internet capabilities across the state.
Collecting data for Steuben County is important, said a statement sent out by the SCEDC and the Chamber, because current information is not accurate.
“Using only the FCC data maps, the only location in our county listed as needing service is Turkey Lake. We know this to not be true. During COVID, many of our community members realized quickly how fast our homes and businesses needed to change to more broadband services. To make a strong push to change this data, we need your help,” said information from the SCEDC and Chamber.
It is possible that the data will be used as a basis to justify the need for grant money to help expand the broadband infrastructure locally.
Last week the Indiana Farm Bureau announced the formation of the Indiana Broadband Strategic Partnership to help bring reliable broadband to the most unserved and underserved communities across the state. To help with this initiative, the IBSP also includes Cook Medical Group, Duke Energy Foundation, Indiana Association of Realtors, Radius Indiana and the Regional Opportunity Initiative.
This partnership will promote the Indiana Speed Test, a crowd-sourced internet speed test created by GEO Partners, a Minnesota-based company that focuses on enabling cost effective planning and deployment of broadband. GEO Partners is working with other states including Minnesota, Washington, Maine, Kentucky and Nebraska, as well as the nationally designated Delta Regional Authority that covers parts of eight states along the Mississippi River, to gather broadband data.
“Since access to reliable broadband is one of the most important challenges facing rural communities today, Indiana Farm Bureau sought organizations that advocate on behalf of rural Indiana to begin finding and developing solutions,” said Randy Kron, Indiana Farm Bureau president. “Data is a critical piece to help local broadband groups and the state of Indiana invest where service is needed and to avoid overbuilding infrastructure. With their groundbreaking work in other states, GEO Partners is a perfect fit.”
The Indiana Speed Test is available on the INFB website — infb.org/speedtest — along with the websites of the initial partners and a growing list of collaborating organizations, including Indiana Broadband, which is housed within the office of Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch.
GEO Partners provides real-time internet speed data by collecting speed test information from residents. Displayed on geographic information system layers, the data pinpoints areas that are most in need of reliable, affordable access to broadband service. The test takes less than one minutes to take.
The goal for the Indiana Speed Test is to gather data in all areas of Indiana. The GEO Partners software platform and the data will be available to local governments and organized broadband groups to analyze potential solutions and aid their applications for Indiana’s Next Level Connections Grants and a variety of federal grants.
It is also hoped that the Indiana Speed Test data will jump start efforts to plan broadband infrastructure investments from the local portions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, so that decision-makers make investments with the greatest impact.
The speed test may be performed multiple times on any device that has an internet or cellular connection. No personal information will be collected.
“All Hoosiers are encouraged to participate in the Indiana Speed Test, the more locations, the more data points we’ll be able to map to highlight what connections are available and speeds Hoosiers are getting at those locations,” Kron added. “We are confident that GEO Partners will help all broadband stakeholders in Indiana by mapping actual internet speeds and identifying the most efficient methods to invest in broadband infrastructure.”
The COVID pandemic put a spotlight on the lack of adequate broadband in Indiana, especially in rural areas. The IBSP’s goal is to encourage data-driven investment decisions that substantially impact lives and our economic opportunity.