UW-Extension, Lincoln County complete broadband survey
Report coming in spring 2021
For the Tomahawk Leader
LINCOLN COUNTY – A survey conducted by University of Wisconsin Madison – Extension Lincoln County, in partnership with Lincoln County, that sought to determine county residents’ broadband internet use and high-speed internet needs was recently completed. Households in the Lincoln County’s unincorporated areas were invited to complete the survey in late fall 2020.
Extension said over 1,300 households 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,” Extension explained.
“The term ‘broadband’ commonly refers to high-speed Internet access that is always on and faster than the traditional dial-up access,” the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said. The FCC defines broadband as a speed of 25 Mbps (megabits per second) for downloading and three Mbps for uploading.
“Internet speed can be incredibly important, especially when trying to access telehealth services or participate in a video conference call,” Extension said. “The higher and closer the download and upload speeds generally indicate the more easily these types of uses can be supported.”
According to Extension, 66% 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,” Extension stated. “Although many residents had access to high-speed internet service, it was not always adequate and could be costly.”
41% of survey respondents 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 reported that 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,” Extension said. “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.”
According to Extension, 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.”
Extension said 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 (www.lincoln.extension.wisc.edu/), and information will be shared with community stakeholders and internet service providers.
For additional information, contact Melinda Osterberg, Lincoln County Community Development Educator, at Melinda.Osterberg@wisc.edu or 715-539-1072.