Internet connectivity survey continuing, early results show lack of access in parts of county.

February 23, 2021

Internet connectivity survey continuing, early results show lack of access in parts of county.

Early results of a survey being conducted by Connecting Mason County are showing that about 12% of respondents do not currently have access to the internet. The survey has found that the biggest barrier is not having a local provider, followed by cost. Of survey respondents with access to the internet, Charter Spectrum is by far the main provider, followed by Syncwave and Frontier, and a number of providers serving smaller percentages using phone, satellite, or cell phone technology. 

Of those who have responded thus far with access to the internet, many showed some level of dissatisfaction with the speed of their service. Over 54% are dissatisfied with their speed, and over 50% with the cost. Monica Schuyler commented that many are either actively seeking or would at least entertain another option if they had one. 

“So far, we have heard a lot of compelling stories and comments from the survey,” Said Monica Schuyler, executive director of Pennies from Heaven Foundation and one of the Connecting Mason County organizers. “We heard stories from survey responders grateful for all that access allows them to do! And we heard stories of frustration, not being able to work, learn, access resources, or visit a doctor from home,” said Schuyler. Here are a few of the comments that the group received permission to share.

The survey allows respondents to comment about their service. One anonymous respondent said lack of internet was a reason for not signing up for college classes at West Shore Community College. State mandates because of COVID-19 forced many college and high school classes to go online late in 2020, with no regard to consideration that many don’t have online access. 

Existing infrastructure is also a concern. 

“Our neighborhood continues to grow and more people are sharing the same very inadequate line … that is our only internet option,” said Kathleen Grossenbacher. “We have tried to get Spectrum to provide their services but they wanted many thousands of dollars from each household to lay the cable due to the low density compared to other neighborhoods. With everything paperless and online now, many times our neighborhood can’t access many things we require for just living a normal life. I understand that population density plays a role in profitability for infrastructure investment, but reliable, affordable internet should be classified as a necessity as much as electricity, water for everyone no matter where you live. Thank you so much to the wonderful organizations that are funding this survey, hopefully, the results will bring fruition for this problem negatively impacting our community.”

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

Connecting Mason County is also collaborating and partnering regionally to seek collaborative solutions. For those who have an Oceana Address, please visit: http://connectmycommunity.org/oceana-county/

Manistee Address: http://gis.westernls.com/gismap/ManisteeBroadbandSurvey

Lake County Address: https://www.myconnectedcommunity.org/lake-county-1/

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