Lincoln County completes broadband survey
University of Wisconsin Madison – Extension Lincoln County, in partnership with Lincoln County, has recently completed a survey of County residents to determine their broadband use and high-speed internet needs. Households in the County’s unincorporated areas were invited to complete the survey in late Fall 2020.
Preliminary survey results are in and over 1,300 households in Lincoln County responded to the survey! This great response rate is statistically significant, meaning that the survey results are not likely due to chance or some other factor, and that the data relatively accurately reflects Lincoln County residents as a whole.
Broadband or high-speed internet is the speed at which you can access the internet and is defined by the Federal Communications Commission, as a speed of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Internet speed can be incredibly important, especially when trying to access telehealth services or participate in a video conference call. The higher and closer the download and upload speeds generally indicate the more easily these types of uses can be supported.
Sixty-six percent of survey respondents accessed the internet through a paid monthly subscription for broadband service; for reference U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey data indicates that 83% of Wisconsin households and 78% of Lincoln County households had a monthly subscription for broadband service in 2015. Although many residents had access to high-speed internet service, it was not always adequate and could be costly. Forty-one percent reported that they were dissatisfied with the level of service, and 28% were paying in excess of $80 monthly for internet service.
Of the 445 households that report they did not have access to high-speed internet, 92% indicated that broadband access was extremely or very important and nearly a quarter struggled with remote learning due to lack of access to high-speed internet.
Lack of high-speed also may have a social and economic cost for Lincoln County. Of the 33% of survey respondents who did not have adequate access to broadband, a third indicated that they were likely to start, move, or grow a business in Lincoln County if they had access to adequate, reliable, and affordable broadband internet services. One survey respondent commented, “Broadband has gone from a want to a need in our current situation and it is likely to become more critical as time goes on.”
Survey data is still being analyzed and a full report will be available in early Spring 2021. The report will be available on the Lincoln County-Extension webpage and information will be shared with community stakeholders and internet service providers. For additional information, please contact Melinda Osterberg, Lincoln County Community Development Educator at Melinda.Osterberg@wisc.edu or 715-539-1072.