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As a step in the ongoing quest for rural broadband integration, the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners is encouraging all residents to participate in an upcoming broadband market study. Thanks to a grant from West Central Initiative, Otter Tail County will be collecting resident input to better understand broadband availability and preferences.
Over the next several weeks, Otter Tail County will be calling a randomly selected group of property owners in southern Otter Tail County, including the communities of Henning and Battle Lake. According to Otter Tail County Chairman, Wayne Johnson, “We know residents already get a lot of calls from telemarketers. This is not one of them. The phone survey will be simple and fast. Most importantly, resident input is confidential and essential for broadband expansion in these areas.”
The survey area was selected after extensive conversation and input from broadband providers. Through those conversations, Otter Tail County discovered that there is a huge amount of broadband construction planned for the coming years. Based on discussions with providers it is estimated that approximately 80% of the county residents will have access to 100Mbps and beyond in the next 4-5 years. According to Johnson, “The residents we are surveying live in areas in which there is no plan for broadband deployment in the coming years. The digital divide is real, and our constituents don’t want to be left behind.”
“Even if people are not heavy broadband users, broadband affects daily life,” said Johnson, noting that internet speed, or lack thereof, can affect things such as the ability to provide healthcare services, the costs of general goods and services, access to education and business operations. “If called, we really hope residents will participate in the survey. Their input is very important!”