2019 Internet Survey Online Now!
Jefferson County PUD, in collaboration with Team Jefferson EDC, wants as many residents and commercial businesses as possible to take a new online survey about access to and use of the internet in East Jefferson County.
The survey is available on the PUD’s website at jeffpud.org/broadband/survey until June 30th. The survey has two tracks: one for residential customers and one for commercial customers. A button for each is available on the webpage. Commercial customers include businesses, institutions, non-profits, and government agencies. Residential customers include any residential household (either single or multi- family dwellings) as well as customers with home-based businesses.
“We need businesses from all across the county to take the survey, especially in the less populated areas.” said the PUD Communications Manager Will O’Donnell. “Part of the goal of the survey is to gather up information that we can use for future grant applications. And many of those grants are focused on economic development, so getting internet data from businesses of all types is critical.”
“The survey has a couple of objectives,” said O’Donnell “We want to know who has internet and who doesn’t, as well as who has good internet and who doesn’t. The survey has a speed test built into it, and the results will be collated and mapped, and we’ll use the maps to help decide where we might build out fiber in the future.”
In order to get the best results for the speed test, O’Donnell recommends that participants are take the survey on a computer directly plugged into the internet via ethernet cable (as opposed to WIFI) in order to get the most accurate speed test. “Only one response per business or home, please” said O’Donnell.
According to Brian Kuh, Executive Director of Team Jefferson EDC, expanding access to reliable, high-speed, broadband internet is key to maintaining and growing Jefferson County’s economy and quality of life. He urges everyone to take the survey, even those who don’t have internet at their homes or businesses currently. “We need to hear from folks who don’t have internet just as much as we need to hear from those that do.”
PUD customers without internet access will receive a paper survey along with their May power bill that they can fill out and return with their bill payment. O’Donnell explained that paper surveys can also be dropped off at the PUD’s customer service office at 4 Corners Rd. “Though we discourage it for customers with home internet, customers without can take the residential survey at the library, a friend’s home or even on a smartphone. When you indicate on the survey that you don’t not have internet access at home, it limits the number of questions asked to match the paper survey.”
Acting General Manager Kevin Streett has led much of the PUD’s fiber installation. He wants customers to understand that though the PUD is studying models for expansion, the PUD has limits on what it can provide regarding broadband. “The PUD can build fiber, but we can’t directly connect our customers to it. Any customer who wants to connect to PUD fiber needs to go through an ISP (Internet Service Provider). That’s state law for PUDs.”
According to O’Donnell, the internet survey is part of Jefferson County PUD’s broadband strategic planning process. The PUD received funding from the Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) to develop the plan. Magellan Advisors—a telecommunications consulting firm specializing in broadband infrastructure design and deployment for counties, cities, and utilities across the nation—was hired in January to assist with the planning process. The planning process is expected to extend into August, with a final draft delivered to the PUD’s Board of Commissioners in the fall.