Isanti County broadband survey indicates community needs more

The Isanti County News reports on the results of a broadband survey taken last summer. (The survey was sponsored by a grant from the Blandin Foundation, the Initiative Foundation and Isanti County.)…

“We had a 12 percent response rate which is stunning. The expected response would be four to five percent,” said Janna King with Economic Development Services. “Eighty-three percent of the people said their Internet was inadequate. Among the 44 businesses that responded, 10 said they would consider re-locating because of their Internet service. That is pretty dramatic from an economic development perspective.” …

Survey results indicate Internet service is highly important and there is a high level of dissatisfaction with current level of service.

  • Eighty-eight percent of residents say they need better Internet-data service, 92 percent said Internet access is very important and 1 percent said it is not important.
  • Eighty-three percent of businesses say they need better Internet-data service and 95 percent said the Internet is essential to their business.
  • Sixty-six percent of businesses said limited Internet access at employees’ residences impacts their business.
  • Twenty-four percent of businesses said Internet service options impact their business’ decision to relocate or stay in the county.

“Clearly, the business responses indicate this is an economic development issue. With the residents, there are multiple reasons it is highly important. It is not just about playing games and looking at Facebook. Over 30 pages of comments indicate challenges for families with students who need Internet access to complete homework, employees who need to log-in remotely to work on computers, farmers and rural small businesses who need better Internet access, and people who could telecommute part- time or full-time if they had better service. Respondents indicated that satellite and cellular service are helping them access the internet, but there are important limitations and challenges with those services for many people. Health care organizations are concerned about the lack of rural broadband, because they see tremendous opportunities to save money and improve service through existing and emerging telemedicine technologies. Realtors report that the lack of Internet access impacts home sales,” King stated.

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