Let me start by saying that there is nothing scientific about the LivPo’s Broadband Survey. We aren’t pollsters, and we aren’t social scientists; however, we take note when posts on a particular subject — in this case, anything about broadband — get huge readership, and we humbly consider ourselves experts in asking questions, getting feedback, and taking the temperature of the community.
All that said, we have to admit that we are pleasantly surprised for the support shown for a comprehensive approach for a county-wide broadband system shown in our latest survey.
We heard from 154 Livingston County residents, and there are two unmistakable take-aways for the Livingston County Board of Commissioners to consider as they figure out what to do with all that money:
1. Survey respondents — nearly 94% — overwhelmingly support a blue-ribbon committee to come up with a broadband plan.
2. Survey respondents — 81% — are willing to consider a five-year millage to support construction of a state-of-the-art, high-speed, fiber optic broadband system.
Livingston County is the lucky recipient of $56.2 million in stimulus funds ($37.2 million of which is going directly to the county government) that can be used for water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure. That’s it. These funds, which must be spent by the end of 2024, can’t be used for roads, bridges or other general infrastructure.
Let’s face it: the stimulus funds will go a long way to position Livingston County for the high-tech future it imagined for itself a decade ago, but it’s not going to get us to the finish line. (If you want to read the Advantage Livingston plan that county leaders created during the Great Recession, click here.) That’s why it’s so heartening to me — who has been pushing for high-speed, fiber-optic broadband — to see that among survey respondents there is a willingness to consider further investment in ourselves.
My fear is that the Livingston County Board of Commissioners will cobble together a quick, easy, cheap patchwork of a little of this and a little of that on a foundation of a variety of carriers and delivery systems. I call it “geezer technology,” and it will end up costing more in the long run in speed, capacity and lifespan.
The future, really and truly, is fiber.
We realize that our non-scientific survey is just that, so we enthusiastically throw our support behind the commissioners in bringing together a Blue Ribbon Broadband Committee of experts, officials, and people who represent a cross-section of the community to study the issue and come up with a plan.
Here are the LivPo’s Broadband Survey results:LivPo-Broadband-Survey