In accordance with recently passed legislation, the state of Washington has been working to achieve the goal of providing broadband access to every resident by 2024. One critical piece to puzzle requires public participation: Taking a one-minute speed survey from your computer.
By responding to the survey at www.commerce.wa.gov/building-infrastructure/washington-statewide-broadband-act/speedtestsurvey, the Governor’s Statewide Broadband Office, an organization under the state Department of Commerce, will collect data about your broadband speed to identify gaps in the services provided to the community.
The broadband office is also responsible for the collaboration between the public and broadband providers.
Another crucial part to the legislation is the establishment of a competitive loan program through the Washington State Public Works Board, to “assist in funding acquisition, installation, and construction of middle mile and last mile infrastructure and promote the expansion of access to broadband service in unserved areas of the state,” according to the website.
Eligible participants of the loan program include cities, counties, special purpose districts and tribal governments. According to Jacob Anderson, project coordinator with the Klickitat County Economic Development Department, the county’s role will be mainly to work with local providers to expand services to the outlying rural areas of Klickitat County, where he says residents are reporting speeds of 1 mbps upload speeds and 2 mbps download speeds, while paying for 10 mbps up and 20 mbps down.
Because investments have been made in Klickitat County for previous upgrades to the broadband services, Anderson said the county is ineligible for the grant and loan program, so they are looking for alternatives to consider.
Acknowledging the predicament residents will be in as school starts soon in a virtual format, Anderson said the best thing the public can hope for right now is the ability for local providers to expand and upgrade their systems as residents adjust to remote living.
Anderson said the county is also willing to entertain co-location on county-owned emergency communications towers to boost signals across the area.
The county has also spent money boosting posts on Facebook advertising the survey online. The public can view survey results at www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/4bcf7c77ecac475eb467e9df0028d05b.