Access to high speed broadband internet has become increasingly important in today’s world. From commerce to communication, so much of our lives depend on reliable internet. While most urban residents enjoy high-speed internet, many residents in rural areas do not. That is why I am working to find new options for residents in rural areas of Snohomish County to access broadband internet.
As traffic congestion continues to frustrate commuters, telecommuting is becoming more common. The ability to download and send large electronic files, participate in conference and video calls, and manage online communications from your home allows for such telecommuting. This convenience allows residents the best of both worlds, being able to live in quiet rural parts of the county while working for employers in the city.
Rural broadband access not only improves quality of life for residents in outlying areas, it also creates opportunities to expand economic development.
Small and home-based businesses can blossom if they have this essential asset.
According to the Rural Local Initiatives Support Corp., Internet Service Providers are required to report broadband availability and speed twice a year. But the data can be misleading as entire zip codes can be marked as “served” if just one house in the area has broadband internet. This means the maps used by Congress, federal agencies, and the state do not paint an accurate picture of reliable internet.
This is why I have made rural broadband access a priority as we work with federal and state partners on the county’s legislative priorities. At a recent National Association of Counties conference, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue highlighted the administration’s focus on access to rural broadband and proposed investments to increase this access.
I have also spoken with our representatives in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House about this issue. These partnerships at the state and federal level will be critical to making progress on expanding internet access.
As part of the effort to provide more accurate data, NACo has released a mobile app to test broadband upload and download speeds. The app is called “TestIt” and is available on Apple and Android devices. The app allows users to test the speed of broadband internet wherever they are. With more-accurate information, I hope we can better serve residents in the outlying areas of our county.
Nate Nehring is on the Snohomish County Council and represents Arlington, Marysville and other areas. Nate.Nehring@snoco.org