The Greenbrier County Broadband Council reviewed the increased broadband survey numbers and the county’s hopeful expansion plan on Wednesday, December 15.
The council is led by Senator Stephen Baldwin, who explained that the results are still mostly consistent with the last time the West Virginia Daily News covered the broadband survey.
“I think the thing that would surprise most people is that a quarter of the respondents don’t have any internet connection,” explained Baldwin. “They cite lack of availability and cost as the reasons for that.”
In the October, the survey had 700 respondents. The new data brings this total up to 800, far short of the 19,366 housing units reflected by the 2020 census, but this sample still reflected the need for expanded internet in the county.
Baldwin noted the current survey results show that for internet in Greenbrier County:
– “[Of the respondents], 7% were for business, 79% were for home, 14% working from home, about 10% veterans. That’s largely in line with what we’ve been seeing.”
– “[Of respondents], 39% report a weak connection, 50% report a good connection, and 11% report strong connection.”
– “We were at 25% who had no internet, we’re now at 24% of people who responded to the survey have no internet at all. In terms of those 24%, 14% said they don’t have it because it costs too much, 70% that’s not available and 16% may have poor service or something else as the reason they don’t have it.”
– “The areas we see the most responses from are Lewisburg, Ronceverte, White Sulphur, and Alderson. It looks like we have seen an uptick in Caldwell and Crawley, a few more Frankford and Reick and Rainelle. I think we’ve seen more responses from Smoot since last time.”
Although the number of responses has fallen as the survey continues, this doesn’t mean the survey has ended. In order to find and take the survey, visit greenbriercounty.net and click the first link on the screen, which reads “Take Survey.” The Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation is also allowing those who do not have internet at all to participate by calling 304-497-4300.
“I had, kind of, assumed all along that we would be done at end of this month with our mapping work,” Baldwin said. “That that’s not going to quite be the case, I think we’re gonna have at least another couple of weeks, if not a month, or maybe more, to continue to improve those maps. That’s going to give us time to focus on that and to encourage folks to help us do that. We can’t do that alone, we need that feedback to do it.”
Those looking to add their home to the data also still have time.
To read a more in-depth breakdown of the previous numbers, see The West Virginia Daily News article titled “A Quarter’ Of Greenbrier County Answering Broadband Council Survey ‘Don’t Have Internet.”
The Greenbrier County Commission is also looking to expand internet access. Commissioner Tammy Shifflett-Tincher explained a plan is in the early stages.
“Our countywide project that’s going to come from west to east, as we’ve proposed it, [are] also going to cover other counties,” Tincher explained. “We are looking at that public and private [funding] as well. … I think those were just the ideas, a specific one wasn’t thrown out. Of course, certainly things aren’t finalized, but … we are looking at trying to be redundant and have the connections from county to county. I think everyone is on the same page of looking at those similar options.”
Although far from putting lines in the ground, the commission has begun the meetings necessary to get started.
“The county met with our consultants, Thompson and Linton, and some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) providers about three or four weeks ago. … We’re still at the same point where we were two weeks ago – we’re waiting for the ISPs to provide the information needed for the application. … There have been several other ISP providers, the county met with Gigabeam, which is in southwest Virginia, in Princeton area, and they have shown a lot of interest. They are the ISP provider that [the Greenbrier County Commission] is using for the Quinwood broadband project. There have also been other ISP providers that have shown interest in working with the county on the major project to cover countywide. That’s really good, because that is going to provide competition. … The ISPs have assured Region IV, the consultants, and the county, that the financial information will be paired in order to get that information to the state before the deadline of January 31.”