Harnett County officials are working to expand and enhance broadband internet access for the county’s residents, and they need your help.
The County’s Information Technology (IT) Department has launched a Broadband Assessment Survey that asks residents about their current Internet access, and what type of access they would like to have. It also invites residents to conduct a speed test to assess their current Internet capability, which will reveal where existing service is adequate and where it’s not.
For the past several years, expanding broadband access in the county has been among the top priorities of the Harnett County Board of Commissioners, who see broadband as a key component of successful economic development, education and workforce development strategies. The survey is part of a broader effort by the County to encourage Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to extend broadband to unserved and underserved parts of Harnett County.
“Broadband is an essential resource for education and community development,” said Harnett County IT Director Ira Hall. “Our county is underserved in most areas based on the FCC’s definition of broadband; even if our residents have service, it’s not up to FCC guidelines for what constitutes sufficient service.”
Harnett County IT has compiled an inventory of the current broadband infrastructure within the county to identify gaps in coverage. The department has also looked for potential opportunities for expanding broadband, the most promising of which is to present ISPs with data showing where residents are looking to connect to encourage the extension of broadband to those areas.
Hall said the goal of the survey is to gather data to attract new ISPs into Harnett County and encourage existing ISPs to expand their networks to new parts of the county.
“This broadband survey will provide a clearer picture of what areas are underserved in our community,” he said. “Having accurate data will allow ISPs to map out their network expansion. The more residents participate in the survey, the more precise the data will be – we will be able to show ISPs the opportunities they have to expand their business and provide this essential service.”
The survey is available online at www.HarnettBroadband.com, however paper surveys will also be made available at County and municipal offices throughout Harnett County, as well as libraries and other government buildings. Additionally, the County plans to send information about the survey to parents through Harnett County Schools, and to the County’s water customers through Harnett Regional Water utility bills. Flyers have also been created specifically for churches with the hopes that church leaders will share the information with their congregations to encourage participation.
“We are trying to get the word out about this survey as broadly as we can because we need as much participation from our residents as possible,” said Hall.
Ideally, the speed test should be taken from a home or work computer, rather than from a mobile device. Survey respondents are asked to provide their address to help County officials identify areas within the county where service is needed to share with ISPs.
Contact Harnett County IT at (910) 814-6388 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.