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Internet speed test proponents seek more participation

More data needed to push back against FCC, providers

Washington County residents within the 22 townships have the opportunity this month to fact-check corporate internet service providers and the FCC, by taking an internet speed test, or reporting lack of internet service. (Graphic by Janelle Patterson)

Three out of Washington County’s 22 townships have met statistic validity in an ongoing data collection effort to determine internet access.

“I have sufficient data to do an analysis today, but this is not sufficient to convince the FCC,” explained Glenn Fishbine, of GEO Partners LLC, the geospatial engineering firm partnering with the nonprofit Southeast Ohio Broadband Cooperative to conduct the study through Oct. 23.

To fact-check internet service providers’ reporting to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in what those providers say they supply in terms of internet speeds and access in Washington County, the cooperative and the firm are going straight to the source.

Residents at home are asked to take the internet speed test on their home computer at www.seobc.us

If residents at home do not have internet, they’re asked to call:740-538-0084 and leave a message with the following information:

¯ Identify your address.

¯ Say that you do not have internet access.

¯ Optional: Share your name if you would like to be contacted with more information about the cooperative.

Successes

Public school district superintendents are dispatching robocalls, sending emails and talking with teachers about making the internet speed test a required assignment.

Beth Brown, superintendent for Frontier Local Schools, confirmed Tuesday that she would add the study phone number to her next communication with district families asking them to participate.

Her work on a district-wide email and robocall has already seen a response of 171 households within the rural school district, but another 154 are needed to accurately represent Frontier.

“I want to help them,” said David Brown, a founding member of the cooperative. “If you walk off school property you lose signal, but there’s fiber already running to the schools and it wouldn’t be super expensive to build off of that.”

Fishbine said residents who have participated since the launch of the speed test at the onset of October have not only demonstrated need, but also set examples.

“This week we got the most significant data dump I have ever seen and that came from one of your fire departments,” he said. “They were able to supply about 400 locations, with real addresses where internet service doesn’t exist.”

Now, Adams, Marietta and Muskingum townships are considered statistically valid (adequately representative of the whole number of households within their boundaries).

But is your township, or school district represented accurately?

Needs

According to Fishbine, the smaller the township population, the greater need for participation to be accurately represented.

“There are less homes to pull from so greater a chance of error if people don’t participate,” he explained.

¯ Aurelius Township needs another 58 households to participate to be statistically valid.

¯ Barlow Township needs another 27.

¯ Belpre Township needs another 291.

¯ Decatur Township needs another 45.

¯ Dunham Township needs another 256.

¯ Fairfield Township needs another 186.

¯ Fearing Township needs another 35.

¯ Grandview Township needs another 45.

¯ Independence Township needs another 43.

¯ Lawrence Township needs another 29.

¯ Liberty Township needs another 56.

¯ Ludlow Township needs another 53.

¯ Newport Township needs another 32.

¯ Palmer Township needs another 131.

¯ Salem Township needs another 143.

¯ Warren Township needs another 246.

¯ Waterford Township needs another 220.

¯ Watertown Township needs another 179.

¯ Wesley Township needs another 43.

So it’s up to residents and leaders within those townships to lead the next outreach charge into the less-populated townships to ensure accurate representation this month.

Lowell Fire Chief Josh Harris utilized his access to the 911 database to document homes within Adams Township where service does not exist.

“Every year we send a postcard to every home in our township, so we have those addresses even if we haven’t been there for a fire,” said Harris. “And as a fire chief I know a bunch of these roads and know where they don’t have internet.”

So utilizing that set-up, afforded by work from the county 911 coordinator Rich Hayes and Washington County Sheriff’s Maj. Troy Hawkins, Harris was able to provide the cooperative with what now appears as a cluster of black dots on the public data map.

“If we could get a couple more fire chiefs to follow that model, that would be very helpful,” said David Brown.

Other leaders may include township trustees, congregation officiants and members of the faith community, volunteer firefighters and civic organizations/clubs.

“Then after we get as much feedback from the calls, the emails and the speed tests, we can begin targeting specific areas where we’re missing data.,” David Brown said.

How can you help?

1. Take the speed test at home by your computer or tablet.

2. If you don’t have internet at home, call.

3. Ask a neighbor or family member to take the test or help them take it.

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