Picente eyes digital divide, urges residents to help assess area broadband needs

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Oneida and Herkimer counties are urging residents and businesses to participate in an online survey hosted by the Mohawk Valley Economic Development District that will help to assess broadband needs and advance availability.

“This survey is the first step in bridging the digital divide in Oneida County,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr. in a statement, “It has never been clearer than during this pandemic how vital reliable access to broadband is to our residents and businesses. From remote learning to online meetings to virtual healthcare to ordering products and supplies, being connected to the internet has become an absolute necessity. We must ensure that all of our communities are on equal footing.”

Broadband access includes not only making sure that people have access to reliable and high-quality internet services by ensuring adequate build out of physical infrastructure, but also making sure that residents are able to adopt these services into their life once they are available, notes a release.

In a statement, Herkimer County Chairman Vincent J. Bono added, “For a small rural community like Herkimer County, the expansion of broadband is crucial for economic, educational and health advancement ... During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw just how important it is to have connect-ability for the survival of a community. Lack of broadband capabilities to any community, hinders progress not just during an emergency, but also certainly during any given normal day.”

The survey is available at www.mveddbroadband.com until Aug 7, 2021. 

Participants will find separate surveys for residents and businesses of each county, as well as an internet connection speed test. The information collected from the survey will be kept confidential. The survey results will be used to help develop a plan for improving internet access throughout the region and provide the basis for securing federal and state grants to implement the plan.

Those who would like to participate, but do not have internet or cellular phone access, can contact the Mohawk Valley Economic Development District at 315-838-5398 for assistance.

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