Business Insider column submission
Tab Roper, trustee of the Idaho Technology Council; Vice President, TW Telecom
Idaho Technology Council Launches Statewide Consumer Survey on Internet Access, Satisfaction
If you are an avid user of the Internet in Idaho or if you do business through the web channel, there was no way to consider the news of a few weeks ago a positive. The sobering reality for Idaho, according to Pandonet Works (http://www.pandonetworks.com/Pando-Networks-Releases-Nationwide-ISP-And-Network-Study), is that we have the slowest Internet speed in the country.
Pandonet Works found that Idaho is number 50 of the U.S. states for the speed of its broadband and wireless internet access.
I have grown accustomed to us finishing somewhere just ahead of Mississippi in the rankings of this or that category in national studies, but dead last? Hey, wait, did we beat Puerto Rico?
The largest cities of Idaho are as well equipped to move data across the web as any city in Silicon Valley. There is lots of good fiber backbone. We have many qualified providers. Competition is robust.
But in rural towns, with their small populations and sometimes isolated locations, it is difficult for a data provider to make a decision to invest in superior capacity for so few potential customers.
Members of the Idaho Technology Council have undertaken a project to determine if we Idahoans are good with that. The council has just launched a web-based public opinion survey to determine citizens' level of satisfaction with their broadband and wireless internet service.
Consumers are being asked how important they think Internet speed is in terms of growing their business and strengthening the state’s economy. All Idaho consumers are encouraged to participate by clicking on this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CF2GD63
“Technology pros believe Idaho can only grow by making sure all our citizens have access to the knowledge-based economy, and the backbone of that economy is the Internet,” said Jay Larsen, Idaho Technology Council [www.idahotechcouncil.org] president and chief executive officer. “It is becoming increasingly clear to our members that new mobile tools and applications are transforming computing so that there are no more barriers to doing business. Our study will be a useful tool to determine whether Idaho consumers believe we need strengthened broadband and wireless service in the communities of Idaho.”
Participation is anonymous and survey results are completely confidential. The online survey opened this week and collection of public opinion will continue until Sept. 21.
Survey findings will be shared with the public through statewide media and with Idaho elected officials.
Here's my bottom line: in a state that is geographically isolated from major urban centers, whose cities themselves are separated by some of the most rugged country on the planet, whose creativity has established one of the most outstanding records of patentable ideas in the country, whose lone eagle businesses and Innovators are dispersed from Boundary County on the Canadian border to the desert reaches of the Idaho National Laboratory, fast and functional Internet service is a must. It is one of the few factors that has the hope of leveling the playing field for Idaho entrepreneurs in the global marketplace that they compete in every day.
I hope you agree. Please participate in our survey so we can begin to close the gap with Mississippi ASAP.
Tab Roper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (208) 888-4433.