By: Scott Cooper
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser
Like me, you may have heard it said that trying to bring Broadband Internet capabilities to rural areas like Edgefield County in the early part of the 21stcentury is similar in the effort our grandparents had in bringing electricity to rural areas in the early part of the 20thcentury.
You are probably also keenly aware that economies of the 21stcentury must have internet access, if they are to compete in the global marketplace. If you have had the privilege of traveling to third world nations where entire villages have skipped the “wired” infrastructure and gone straight to the “wireless” infrastructure, you are even more aware of the competitiveness edge that comes with having this technology.
Edgefield County is not alone in our challenge to bring Broadband Internet access to rural areas. Rural parts of South Carolina are not alone in this challenge. It is a challenge the entire United States faces.
I want to give you two tasks this week, to help with this incredibly important effort. First, act on the information I am about to provide you. Second, get everyone in your sphere of influence to do the same. This is part of a nationwide effort to bring Broadband to not only our historic county, but our entire republic.
The National Association of Counties (NaCo), of which Edgefield County recently proudly joined,“has partnered with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) and Farm Credit to develop a mobile app designed to identify areas with low or no connectivity to help ensure adequate funding for broadband infrastructure is provided across the country.”
The next three paragraphs of my editorial are from NaCo’s flier, which is available at www.NaCo.org/TestIt.
““TestIT” is an iOS/Android mobile app that leverages a broadband sampling tool designed by Measurement Lab (MLab) to aggregate broadband speeds across the country from app users. With the press of a single button, users will be able to test their broadband speed from anywhere. Additionally, users will be able to compare their internet speeds to the national average and minimum standards established by the Federal Communications System. No personal information will be collected through this mobile app.
A snapshot of each sample will be sent to a database which will allow NaCo and partners to analyze connectivity data across the country. The data collected through this app will help identify areas where broadband service is overstated and underfunded by comparing the data to the National Broadband Map.
Your help identifying gaps in our nation’s broadband coverage is critical to making substantive changes to the process for reporting broadband service. We hope you will help shed light on this critically important issue and encourage your friends, family and constituents to join in the efforts as well!”
In closing, not only as Chairman of County Council, but more importantly as a business owner in Edgefield County, I implore you to invest the time to download this tool from The National Association of Counties, use it in several places throughout our beautiful county, and encourage all your friends to do the same.
Thank you! Here’s wishing you a productive week!