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Lee County seeks help from residents and businesses to identify locations with poor broadband internet access

FCC Broadband
FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2007 file photo, A.J. Bowen of Schupp's Line Construction, Inc. works on fiber-optic installation in Norton, Vt. The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 will deliver to congress a sweeping proposal to overhaul U.S. broadband policy. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

Lee County is working with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Office of Broadband to pinpoint areas where internet connection can be strengthened.

Residents and businesses are encouraged to take a broadband survey and internet speed test so data can be collected to evaluate broadband capabilities and identify areas lacking service. The goal is to have high-speed internet accessible throughout all of Lee County.

“The whole idea is to evaluate current broadband capabilities and determine areas in need of added service,” said Lee County Government Communications Director Betsy Clayton.

“This is something that's happening nationwide and in Florida, they're taking a proactive approach by asking counties to help with resident involvement.”

Lee County is unaware of how many people don’t have access to high-speed internet, which is why the county needs the help of residents.

“The pandemic resulted in a lot of people working from home, a lot of people doing school from home, and a lot of telehealth and telemedicine. So, a lot of broadband use, a lot of internet use,” said Clayton.

“The federal government and state government are looking at usage areas served and areas that are underserved.”

The online tests take between 60 and 90 seconds. Paper copies of the surveys about internet access are available at Lee County recreation centers and libraries. The Lee County website provides addresses to these locations.

Clayton said that the speed test can be done outside of your home, in areas where you know there is poor service.

“If you are commuting every day, and you're talking on your phone while you commute, and you notice that there's a certain spot where the call always drops, that'd be a great place for you next time when you're on that commute to pull over, park safely, and then go to the website and click on that speed test. Because the speed test will be in a place where your call is dropped. That's the kind of data they're looking for,” said Clayton.

Lee County will be collecting data throughout July. At the end of the month, the data will be given to the state to come up with solutions to increase broadband coverage in underserved areas.

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