03-12 internet meeting

More than 100 Anderson County residents attended an open forum Thursday to discuss area broadband connectivity, and how to improve it.

A non-profit group helping Anderson County improve its broadband internet service said Thursday it will need residents to complete up to 1,600 surveys to make it happen.

Connected Nation plans to perform a broadband mapping and data analysis between March and June to determine ways to improve and expand broadband service in Anderson County.

“What we're eventually looking forward to is better service at a lower cost,” Mayor Steve Presley said.

Connected Nation spokesman Tom Stephenson urged the community to get involved by providing information – positive and negative – about their internet service through online surveys. The company seeks to identify barriers to reliable service, including obstructed signals, poorly installed cables, and remote access.

That information will be shared with local government and internet service providers, such as Sudden Link, Centurylink, and Zito Media, to help them solve local connectivity problems.

Grants may help the city and county pay for technological improvements, after Connected Nation finishes its work.

On Thursday, more than 100 business owners, government leaders, and community members filled Palestine's City Council chambers to learn about plans for faster and more reliable broadband internet.

The meeting in Palestine is part of a broader, statewide effort to connect all communities, especially in rural areas, to broadband. Anderson County is the eighth of 23 counties Connected Nation Texas is visiting to help rural residents improve broadband internet service.

Connected Nation officials said they will need 1,100 to 1,600 completed surveys; Palestine City Manager Leslie Cloer, however, wants every resident to get involved.

“We need input from local families, business owners, residents, and community organizations to ensure the plan addresses the unique needs of Anderson County,” Cloer said. “I want (Connected Nation) to reach their goal on the first day. I want Anderson County to send in more surveys than they've ever seen. They expect to collect data through June – I want them to have enough by the end of the week.”

Funded in part by the Texas Rural Funders Collaborative, the mapping and survey service doesn't cost Palestine or Anderson County a dime.

Connected Nation Texas hooked up with the Anderson County Broadband Committee earlier this year to connect more families, businesses, farmers, and organizations.

Jennifer Harris, state program director for Connected Nation Texas, said Anderson County's broadband maps have not been updated in five years.

Surveys can be found online at:

https://www.myconnectedcommunity.org/anderson-county/

County maps can be reviewed online at:

https://connectednation.org/texas/mapping-analysis/

Residents can provide feedback on these maps at:

https://connectednation.org/texas/feedback

Interactive maps are also available online at: https://connectednation/org/texas/interactivemap

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