Date: Thursday, May 21, 2020
For Immediate Release
For more information contact:
Lisa Moutinho – Washtenaw County Public Information Officer
734-222-6731 [email protected]
Washtenaw County Broadband Task Force Releases Survey Information
ANN ARBOR, MI – The Washtenaw County Broadband Task Force, a group convened by the Board of Commissioners to achieve broadband equity in the entirety of the county by 2022 has released preliminary findings from their 15-township coverage survey. This survey, a 3-way partnership between the Merit Network, Michigan State University’s Quello Center and Washtenaw County was intended to measure internet options, broadband accessibility and speed in our rural western Washtenaw communities. Conducted in February and March of this year, the results demonstrate a stark contrast between FCC broadband coverage maps and the findings of the Task Force.
“The Broadband Task Force’s dedicated work has resulted in a survey data set that dramatically shows 64% of households participating in the study don’t have a minimal level of broadband internet service. This presents a much clearer picture of the issue than the limited FCC Form 477 data’ said Commissioner Jason Maciejewski, a member of the Task Force, ‘Additionally, it also showed an astonishing 57% of K-12 students in the 15-township region do not have high speed broadband access at home. The broadband homework gap is real and putting young people at a disadvantage for life.”
District 3 Commissioner Shannon Beeman, also a member of the Task Force adds, “The survey results highlight the issues we have been facing in rural Washtenaw County for many years. The empirical data collected by this survey drastically differs from that of the FCC’s Form 477. The FCC claims that only 18.5% of households in the participating townships did not have access to broadband at 25Mbps/3Mbps as opposed to 64% shown in this study. The results also showed our residents are seeking additional choices in providers, and they are willing to pay for better internet service. Over 75% said they were willing to switch to a new internet service provider to gain access to a faster and more reliable internet connection.”
The Lyndon Township experience demonstrates that high speed broadband can be affordable. An average homeowner there will pay less than $100 per month for a 1GB connection with unlimited bandwidth; $23 to pay for the 20-year millage approved by voters, and another $70 for the service.
“I applaud the Board of Commissioners for their leadership and commitment to achieving broadband equity in Washtenaw County. The urgency of broadband access has become even more evident with the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result has validated their investment in this project.” Barb Fuller, Chair of the Broadband Task Force.
You may find more information on the Task Force’s work, here.