A survey asking Livingston County residents and businesses about their internet service, or lack thereof, is live.
The county’s survey will collect data on what types of internet people have, how fast it is, what types of devices they use and other information.
People with fixed internet service can hit a button at the end of the survey to test upload and download speeds.
“We all know there is a need for broadband connectivity here in Livingston County,” Livingston County Chief Information Officer Kristoffer Tobbe, who is also a member of Brighton City Council, said Friday morning during a county webinar.
“Our county has been underserved,” Tobbe said.
He said the survey will help the county plan a broadband initiative to increase internet access and speeds in the county.
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“For years, Livingston County has the asset of being at the crossroads of I-96 and U.S. 23,” but most people commute outside of the county, he said. “Now our residents have a chance to work remote and spend that awful commute time with their families and in our community doing what they love.”
Installing more fiber-optic cable is one option, but it would cost millions.
Tobbe said it can cost between $20,000 to $66,000 a mile.
He said federal recovery funds could be used for broadband. The county could also explore public-private partnerships for internet services.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Tobbe said.
The county hired Merit Network to conduct the survey. Merit Network is a nonprofit internet network and data collection organization that partners with universities. The organization runs The Michigan Moonshot, a statewide broadband initiative.
Merit Network Communications Director Pierrette Renée Dagg hosted Friday’s webinar.
“What we are trying to do is quantify availability and demand,” Dagg said.
She said the Federal Communications Commission, which collects data from internet carriers, frequently overreports coverage.
“But they are reporting by census block,” Dagg said. “If one person within a census block has internet service, the whole census block is reported as having internet service.”
She said the county’s survey will be used to produce more accurate maps and visualizations of served and underserved areas.
How to take the survey
The survey is available online at michiganmoonshot.org/livgov for people with internet access on a computer or mobile device.
You can also take the survey by texting @MOON to 855-613-1746.
To request a paper copy that you can fill out and mail back, call 517-294-2776.
Dagg said the survey will be promoted through mailers to county residents, social media, fliers and signs.
In the online survey, scroll down the page the read more about it and then answer the questions.
There are two versions of the survey, one for people with fixed internet and another for people without fixed internet.
People with fixed internet can test their upload and download speeds. That data will be sent to Merit Network along with survey answers.
Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @jennifer_timar.