Mapping scholarship data is crucial for broadband grant

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AUBURN, Neb. (KOLN) – Ken Edwards, senior member of the Auburn Economic Development Board, says it’s not hard to get testimonials in rural Nebraska about frustration with internet speeds, but solutions use data real.

Head of UNL’s Rural Futures Institute’s Fellowship Oliver Borchers Williams and Michael Dwiggins, who serve the Southeastern Development District of Nebraska, provided this data for a recent grant to pay half the costs of Pinpoint Communications to install a $ 2 million fiber optic cable along Highway 75 to connect Nemaha County to the Otoe County lines.

“They’re doing data mapping and that was extremely critical for this application,” Edwards said.

The reality for rural households is that installing high speed fiber optic can cost thousands of dollars per mile and the highest quality 96 strand fiber optic can cost up to $ 30,000 per mile. Providers see the economic sense of construction for densely populated areas, so fellows sought out grants available through American Recovery funds.

“It created a bridge for that gap, so communities could afford better wholesale internet,” Edwards said. “Our goal was to identify underserved areas and find the best ways to serve them. “

He said the request has been challenged by current providers who claim the service is already adequate.

“Michael and Oliver’s test data showed that Internet service is far below what many people pay or even below the federal minimum of what providers are supposed to offer, therefore, by building Highway 75 and by connecting to Otoe County, it creates a loop so that if the internet goes down in Tecumseh, southeast Nebraska doesn’t lose the internet, ”Edwards said.

ADC says many residents of Nemaha County do not have high-speed internet. Actual download speeds are around 12 megabytes, less than half of the federal minimum of 25 megabytes.

“It was a big win that took a lot of work,” said Edwards. “Oliver and Michael worked tirelessly with map data just… because the grant was challenged, so we had to prove it worked. “

He said work will continue this year to start expanding fiber optics to 180 homes along the highway and in cities like Julian and Peru.

ADC encourages residents to test their internet speeds at nebraskaspeedtest.org

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