WCNDD Works To Improve Broadband By Closing Digital Divide

West Central Nebraska Development District (WCNDD), in cooperation with the Nebraska Regional Officials Council (NROC), announces the launch of a statewide broadband mapping initiative.  Every Nebraskan is encouraged to participate in the one-minute speed test from any internet-enabled device, including cell phones. Speed data will provide decision makers a better understanding of where internet accessibility is limited or not available, and where speeds are not meeting the needs of today’s users. 

The purpose of this initiative is to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas. The captured information will provide data that can be used by communities, counties, and key stakeholders as they plan for broadband infrastructure expansion or enhancement projects.

“Results from this study will give local and state officials a better understanding of the location of underserved and unserved Nebraska residents,” NROC President and WCNDD Executive Director CJ Poltack noted. “Furthermore, it will allow the state to align with Governor Rickett’s legislative priority of improving broadband services for the entire state.”

Individuals are encouraged to take the free test at https://www.speedtestne.org. Participation by everyone is essential and no personal information will be collected. Repeated speed tests by the same users are encouraged during the two-year initiative to better capture variations in internet speeds and collect more statistically valid data. The link can also be used to report locations with no broadband capabilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the need for broadband accessibility with students remote learning and employees working from home. NROC’s initiative will explore how these demands are affecting current providers’ speeds and find gaps in service.

Collected data will provide the most comprehensive, validated, real-time reporting of actual upload and download speeds recorded in the state. The study will be conducted by GEO Partners, LLC, an independent data collection firm with extensive expertise, and not affiliated with any internet service providers. 

This project is funded through a U.S. Economic Development Administration CARES grant specifically to address recovery and resiliency efforts for all affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

NROC is the state organization of Nebraska Development Districts and continues to be a strong advocate for broadband expansion across the region.  NROC and regional partnering organizations recognize that high-speed quality broadband is a critical utility to economic development, education, business, emergency management and emergency services, and virtual healthcare. 

For further comment, contact Amber Kuskie, West Central Nebraska Development District, via email or by phone akuskie@west-central-nebraska.com or (308)284-6077.

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