SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – Santa Barbara County is in the process of developing a countywide Broadband Strategic Plan to better understand internet availability for county residents, starting with Tuesday’s launch of a needs assessment survey.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light what many residents were already unnecessarily enduring, the lack of reliable and affordable access to internet,” said Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) Board of Directors Vice-Chair and Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne.
“The broadband survey and speed test is vital to our efforts to advocate for fast, flexible, affordable, and reliable internet service for all residents and businesses in our county.”
The assessment survey includes a speed test for the public to self-report their internet experience at home, work, and other places they connect to internet, according to SBCAG spokeswoman, Lauren Bianchi Klemann.
Data from the survey and speed test will be mapped and used to identify areas in the county with low-to-no access high-speed internet, Bianchi Klemann said.
The survey will be used to help develop a Broadband Strategic Plan that will be used to direct funding projects that will help increase affordable access to high-speed internet.
The strategic plan is expected to be complete by the end of 2022, in which the Broadband Alliance of Santa Barbara County will seek funding for high-speed internet projects.
“Each of us can do one very important thing to improve internet access and affordability. If your internet is too slow or unreliable or expensive, take the one-minute broadband internet survey and speed test before May 31,” said SBCAG Director and Board of Supervisors Chair Joan Hartmann.
“This will allow us to validate where we have poor coverage. Help us take charge to improve affordable access to high-speed internet in our homes, schools, businesses, and libraries.”
The project is in accordance with the state’s commitment to bring affordable high-speed internet to every Californian.
Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020 signed legislation titled Broadband for All to advance the state’s commitment.
County residents can go to sbcag.org/broadband to take the survey and take a speed test by May 31. They can also identify areas with low service or no service, or where internet is unaffordable. The survey and tests are available in both English and Spanish.
People without internet can call SBCAG at 805-961-8902 to report that they don’t have internet access.