OLYMPIA, WA -- The Washington State Broadband Office and state Public Works Board have launched a mapping initiative to identify gaps in high-speed internet service and areas of broadband infrastructure needs in order to advance the state’s goal to have universal broadband access in Washington by 2024.
The first step is for Washington residents to perform a one-minute access and speed survey found at broadband.wa.gov. Using the easy-to-follow instructions and a simple link, anyone can complete the speed test at home using any computer or mobile device.
Those with no internet access at their homes are encouraged to visit a local library or drive-in hotspot in their community, or use their mobile device to take the survey and check the “no available service” button to record their physical address. This simple access and speed survey will result in statistically valid data and mapping for decision makers to plot a course for Washington’s ambitious broadband expansion plans.
“Our State Broadband Office is leading the nation with this first-of-its-kind survey to collect broadband access and speed data at this level of detail,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “We encourage everyone to take the test and share the link. The data will provide the foundation for achieving our long-term goal to provide quality, high-speed broadband access to every Washingtonian.”
“Imagine your child can’t use the internet to do homework, or the nearest doctor is 40 miles away and there’s no reliable option to consult via teleconference, or a small business can’t sell products or provide services online - the need for broadband access in every community has never been clearer,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “Bridging the digital divide is one of the most important tools we have for widespread economic development and individual prosperity.”
Washington businesses and institutions such as schools, libraries, hospitals and public safety facilities are also participating in the mapping project. Key partners with the State Broadband Office include mapping technology partner GEO Partners, LLC, Washington State Department of Commerce Information Services, Washington State University Extension, Washington State Library division of the Office of the Secretary of State, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
The map data gathered through the survey will provide validated information for use by any community for broadband expansion projects and support pursuit of grant funding available from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and state programs such as Public Works Board and Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) broadband financing.
“Solving broadband issues at the macro level is not an option – it requires micro-surgery,” said Russ Elliott, director of the Washington State Broadband Office. “We are in a time where we need the most precise data in order to make intelligent decisions with the limited state funds available. We need everyone to participate in these surveys so we have the highest quality data to make the best decisions for providing future-proof infrastructure to solve these issues not just for today, but for the next generation.”
Many rural communities are already engaged in broadband projects and planning. In conjunction with this Broadband Office access and speed survey, the Public Works Board is conducting a Planning Assessment Survey for local governments to assist in mapping and tracking these infrastructure projects across the state. The Board currently has $18 million available for low-interest loans and grants for broadband construction projects.
To learn more about the Washington State Broadband Office and its work to lead a multi-agency collaboration dedicated to providing access to affordable broadband to all Washington residents, visit www.broadband.wa.gov.