County starting broadband internet needs survey

May 16—More than $3 million in public funds is earmarked to improve Crawford County’s broadband internet service, but the public is being asked to determine where.

A survey to determine where the county should commit the federal dollars is getting underway.

The short survey, already available online at arcg.is/154bqj, will help the county target money to areas where internet service either doesn’t exist or isn’t up to the federal high-speed standard, according to Chairman Eric Henry of Crawford County Board of Commissioners.

It also will be distributed via school districts within the county, major employers in the county, and via mail in the weeks ahead.

The notifications also have a QR, or quick response, code allowing the survey to be filled out using a QR application on a smartphone.

“This survey is very important to us because the actual map we have for current data about internet and people’s ability to use or not use is old and outdated. We really need the data,” Henry said.

The survey also has an optional speed check, so a person may determine if his or her current internet service is up to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) standard for high-speed broadband.

High-speed broadband is defined by the FCC as a download speed of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speed of 3 Mbps.

Commissioners and the county’s American Rescue Plan Committee is committing more than $3 million of the county’s federal American Rescue Plan Act funds toward broadband improvements.

An accurate survey is important to improve the county’s ability to award grants to internet service providers without duplicating improvements that the providers already are working on, Henry said.

Survey cards first will be distributed to households through the Conneaut, Crawford Central, PENNCREST and Titusville school districts within the next two weeks.

A separate survey notification in early June will be via email through major employers within the county followed by a direct mailing to known underserved areas.

“It’s going to be a multi-week survey project, but it’s very important people fill it out for us,” Henry said.

“The reason this is so important is in the previous list we had, one residence in the (U.S.) census tract would show it had good internet and that would show the entire census tract of that area as having good internet service.

“We found that not to be true,” Henry said. “That might be one person at the end of one road.

“This survey is very important for us to be able to distribute the money appropriately,” he said.

A September 2020 study by the Pennsylvania General Assembly on the Delivery of High-Speed Broadband Services in Underserved Areas found only 75 percent of Crawford County households have high-speed internet service that meets the FCC standards.

Last year, commissioners approved the county planning office’s long-term strategy to expand broadband internet access in three areas — Guys Mills/eastern Crawford County; the Shenangos area in the southwestern part of the county; and Conneaut Valley in the northwestern part of the county — all of which need broadband internet access.

Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at .

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