Many members of the Starke County community turned out Monday night to a public open house concerning a plan to help initiate a better broadband experience in the county.
Starke County was the recipient of a $50,000 broadband planning grant to help determine how to improve internet access to all areas of the county.
Following the open house, Katie Clark from the firm Taylor Siefer Williams out of Indianapolis presented to the Starke County Commissioners and members of the public some of the highlights in several categories in the plan. Out of the 350 responses provided in a survey to residents, business owners and leaders, it was found that the need is great to benefit from high speed broadband internet access. It was noted that Starke County had the highest amount of feedback in the survey provided compared to other communities.
While Starke County has a pretty good infrastructure base, it needs to improve to reach several areas that currently experience poor quality or no internet service at all. The satellite and wireless aspects are being reached, but the wired internet capability needs better coverage.
The plan breaks down each township and how broadband would affect homes in the rural areas and where it can improve in the incorporated areas. It also relays placement of where the infrastructure would be situated throughout the township. The information also includes what type of consumer is currently using the internet and several demographic points were noted including education and opportunity of use.
Clark also noted in that speaking with the companies versus what consumers are saying the product the company says is being offered isn’t what the consumer is experiencing.
The plan will undergo several more tweaks before it is formally presented to the commissioners for approval in February after the Office of Community and Rural Affairs reviews the plan. Following that milestone, Clark said implementation will be determined. The county plans to submit applications for the state’s Next Level Broadband funding in a future round of grants to help offset the cost of the construction phase of the plan.