Group surveying public about internet connectively. 

December 17, 2020

Group surveying public about internet connectively. 

Connecting Mason County is a grassroots collaborative effort to provide better broadband internet access to Mason County. The group is launching a broadband internet access survey for Mason County that begins today, Thursday, December 17. The survey will help the group put data together around where and what internet access issues Mason County residents are facing. 

The group formed out of the weekly meeting of nonprofits and community leaders organized by the United Way of Mason County to share communication, resources, and discuss solutions in response to COVID. Broadband internet access repeatedly came up as a barrier from multiple sectors including education and health care. A group formed to begin to explore how we as a community could tackle the connectivity issue. From that, Eric Smith and Patti Skinner from the Mason County District Library, Jeremy Vronko from Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital, and Monica Schuyler from the Pennies from Heaven Foundation volunteered to work together.

“We know Mason County has significant gaps when it comes to broadband availability, affordability, and quality.  These gaps put individuals, businesses, and the community at a disadvantage in our networked world,” said Smith. “A failure to act now will put our community behind the curve in the present, and leave our children unable to compete in years to come, as the effects of the homework and resource gap will be felt for generations.”

“This survey is the first step to help us capture what the real problem and issues are,” said Schuyler.  “It takes the stories and experiences we have all had and puts it into numbers, and a map to help us in finding solutions.” Results of the survey will be mapped by Western Land Services, a local company with expertise in geographic information systems (GIS). 

Connecting Mason County is also contracting with Aspen Wireless to provide a feasibility study for Mason County to look at what the options and costs would be to build a better broadband network. 

Funding has come from West Shore Community College, West Shore Educational Service District, Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital, Ludington and Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Pennies from Heaven Foundation to support the survey and the feasibility study.

To complete the survey, visit the Connecting Mason County Facebook page. The survey can also be accessed using the QR code posted at the top of this story. Paper copies are available at the Ludington and Scottville libraries. If taking the survey online or from a phone, please try to complete it at home where you can test your internet speed. 

“We need as many as possible to complete the survey to give us the best data, and chances to find solutions. Our goal is to capture at least 20 percent of households in Mason County,” said Schuyler. “Please take the five minutes, and help us connect Mason County.” 

As a thank you for completing the survey, you can enter your contact information for a chance to win a $5 gift card to Meijer or Walmart. Winners will be randomly selected every week.

Please consider helping to fund local news. Mason County Press and Oceana County Press are available for free thanks to the generous support of our advertisers and individuals who support our service. Click on the PayPal donation button located on the top right of our website. 

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