Survey shows citizens want more reliable broadband service

108

Residents in Montgomery County say broadband service in the area needs to be improved.


More than 47 percent of those responding to a survey by the New River Valley Regional Commission say connections in the county are too slow and that there simply is not enough bandwidth.

In Christiansburg, those numbers are 36 percent and 29 percent in Blacksburg. The respondents also said service is unreliable, and in most cases, the price is too high.

This week, Kevin Byrd, the executive director of the NRVRC, shared the results of the survey with local leaders. He pointed to the fact that most people said they use the Internet for a combination of things, with the most common being email.

“Others say they use it for shopping, news, music streaming and working at home,” Byrd told Christiansburg town council on Tuesday night.

“Others say they use it for shopping, news, music streaming and working at home,” Byrd told Christiansburg town council on Tuesday night.

The latter with more and more individuals working from home, according to Byrd, is gathering a lot of steam here in Montgomery County, thus more reliable broadband connections are needed.

The broadband survey results for Montgomery County and the towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg show a strong overall desire for improved internet services.

“Each area responded with different satisfaction factors. For Christiansburg, most respondents were dissatisfied with speed, but were somewhat satisfied with reliability, customer support and customer service. In Blacksburg, most customers were satisfied with speed and reliability, but were dissatisfied with customer support and customer service. County residents were dissatisfied across all four factors of speed, reliability, customer support and customer service,” Byrd said.

John Tutle has been a big proponent for a bigger and robust broadband network throughout our area. Last summer, he told Christiansburg councilmembers broadband service needed to be expanded in order to promote more economic development.

Tutle has served as the past president of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce and is a local businessman. Now, after the results of the survey have been released, his support of the initiative is even stronger.

“Broadband is extremely important to economic development. If we are going to grow and lead in Southwest Virginia, we have to get business access to broadband. If we start with business we can grow to the neighborhoods,” he said.

Byrd agrees broadband is critical to the future growth of communities across the New River Valley for a variety of reasons.

“It used to be important to focus on getting high bandwidth to office/industrial parks, but now the internet is ubiquitous for all aspect of our lives from K-12 homework to the rapid increase of home-based businesses,” he said.

“As our communities continue to position themselves as a high-tech growth area, employees need access to high-speed, secure networks at work and at home. The same holds true for someone that has a desire to use the Internet for telemedicine, or to simply video chat with family.  All of these activities require high bandwidth capacity that needs to be available in all communities.”

Tutle thinks the survey shows that Christiansburg and Montgomery County are way behind the curve and that Blacksburg is average.

“Speeds are good in some areas, but capacity is going to be breeches soon. We need to allow business to tap into the broadband that we already have. It needs to be a public- private endeavor,” he said.

In terms of next steps, the regional commission will be pulling together to survey partners that includes Montgomery County, the towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg, the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, the Blacksburg Partnership and Virginia Tech to organize an internet service providers meeting in the coming months.

“At this meeting, we will share the survey results, ask the providers what they need in order to address the unmet needs and see what resources can be brought to address the internet challenges,” Byrd said.

“At this meeting, we will share the survey results, ask the providers what they need in order to address the unmet needs and see what resources can be brought to address the internet challenges,” Byrd said.

Additionally, he believes there are several potential avenues to address these challenges with much of it being a direct dialogue with the area’s service providers themselves.

The surveys are still available to take at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/christiansburgbroadband or www.surveymonkey.com/r/MontCoBroadband.

The results can be found on the New River Valley Regional Commission’s website: www.nrvrc.org.

View original source link