This editorial was originally published June 16 in the NWI Times.
Late last month, Indiana Farm Bureau announced the formation of the Indiana Broadband Strategic Partnership.
The partnership was conceived as a way to bring broadband internet to communities that are to often overlooked and underserved.
It’s also promoting the Indiana Speed Test, which according to Indiana Farm Bureau is “a crowd-sourced internet speed test created by GEO Partners, LLC, a Minnesota-based company that focuses on enabling cost effective planning and deployment of broadband.”
Internet is basically a public utility at this point. Reliable and fast internet is essential for everyone. Just think of the past 15-plus months. So many Hoosiers worked from home while their children attended school through e-learning.
How many children might have fallen behind without access to broadband?
Too often those children are from underserved communities. Rural areas of the state are especially hard hit by a lack of broadband access.
Indiana Farm Bureau’s initiative is not only welcome but necessary.
“Data is a critical piece to help local broadband groups and the state of Indiana invest where service is needed and to avoid overbuilding infrastructure,” Randy Kron, president of Indiana Farm Bureau, recently said in a statement.
The Indiana Speed Test is available at www.infb.org/speedtest.
According to Indiana Farm Bureau, the speed test provides real-time internet speed information from residents. That data then pinpoints areas that are most in need of reliable, affordable access to broadband service.
With that data, those gaps in service can hopefully become filled. Local government and broadband groups can come together and come up with solutions.
This is something that is beyond due in 2021. Internet access is part of our daily lives. We use it to not only work and go to school but to communicate with others, shop, pay bills and so much more.
Indiana Farm Bureau also states that a hope from this project is that the Indiana Speed Test data “will jumpstart efforts to plan broadband infrastructure investments from the local portions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, so that decision-makers make investments with the greatest impact.”
This is a common-sense approach to a real issue that affects so many. Not only is expanding broadband access the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.
The speed test may be performed multiple times on any device that has an internet or cellular connection. The test takes less than one minute to complete, and no personal information will be collected, according to Indiana Farm Bureau.
Kron encouraged all Hoosiers to take part in the test. It seems like a simple request that can lead to a whole lot of good.
Just like with roads, the state and local communities must come together and build and strengthen broadband infrastructure. It’s vital to a successful future.
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