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Jefferson County Broadband Assessment show people value speed and affordability in their internet

PMG PHOTO: PAT KRUIS - Preliminary results of the Jefferson County survey about broadband show customers most value reliablity and affordability.

The internet is one of the largest connectors of people, and something most use daily. From April to June, Jefferson County conducted a broadband assessment to better understand how broadband is serving the community, and where improvements need to be made.

Preliminary data suggests that households in the community value robust and competitive broadband, smart community services and remote health services available via the internet.

In Madras, 130 households and 43 businesses took the survey. In greater Jefferson County, 743 households and 92 businesses took the survey. Of those surveyed, the vast majority rely on cable internet, with fixed wireless coming in second.

For households and businesses alike, the largest priority is robust and competitive broadband. Access to reliable, fast and affordable services was the highest priority by about 30%. Both groups also valued smart community services accessible via the internet, and want to see services made accessible via the internet.

Households also value remote health services, with 50.5% valuing them at high priority. For businesses, new opportunities for economic growth were of high importance.

Both groups stated they valued speed and reliability of service the strongest in their internet provider. Currently, over half of households have speeds below 25 megabytes per second and 50% of residents reported frequent problems with their internet service.

Another aspect of the survey focused on the amount the community spends on internet access. Most households spend between $60 and $79.99 a month on internet. Businesses spend between $50 and $99 on average

The broadband assessment is an early step in addressing the significant broadband access issues within Jefferson County. From this, the city hopes to work towards addressing broadband issues. Reliable and fast internet access is of increasing importance for business and residential growth.

"From an economic development perspective, if there's better broadband, businesses and people are more likely to select this location, and stay here," said Madras Community Development Director Nick Snead at a recent Madras City Council meeting.

This proves true based on the results of the survey. Despite respondents reporting overall happiness in the community, one-third stated they would consider relocating for better broadband acces

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