Survey asks residents to report internet speeds

BOONE COUNTY, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Boone County Clerk and Commissioner are working together to learn more about residents’ internet speeds, with the hopes of providing a better connection to areas with little-to-no internet.

A survey has been added to a mailed packet regarding election information, asking people to report their internet speeds.

The survey comes in the form of a QR code that can be scanned on a smartphone. From there, the QR code will bring users to a system that will tell them their upload and download speeds from their location. This could be a home or a business.

This program aims to create a map of compiled data that will show areas that struggle to access the web. The program will not identify residents living at the address, rather the internet speeds of that particular location.

Rural communities like Centralia, Harrisburg, Sturgeon and Hallsville are some of the commissioner’s main focus.

“People have either intermittent service or no service,” Boone County District II Commissioner Janet Thompson said. “The level of service which they pay a provider is actually much less than what they are paying for. To hop on a Zoom call may require someone to go sit in a McDonald’s parking lot.”

Online school has increased in popularity after the COVID-19 pandemic made students attend school remotely.

“Kids were sent home when the pandemic hit,” Thompson said. “If there is a lack of internet, how were they learning or attending class? No internet means no participation.”

Participation is important because the map will help serve as a gauge for how much funding will be needed to install fiber optic cables.

“We need to know if we’re running a mile of cables through an open flat field, or through rocks and hills,” Thompson said.

This project falls under funding by the American Rescue Plan Act. ARPA funds are used to pay for expenses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Internet speed falls under the plan.

“We saw a struggle with people accessing the internet for essential needs during online education,” Thompson said. “The access to internet will help people not only with school, but who participate in tele-health as well as other essential needs.

“Also, it will help with the frustrations that come along with trying to stream shows and movies but face a constant buffering screen.”

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