Eliminating slow internet and underserviced areas continues to be a priority throughout Florida.
On Wednesday, Alachua County released an announcement asking residents to participate in the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s (DEO) internet speed test that will not only help users know their internet speeds but will also assist local governments to understand the area’s needs regarding internet accessibility.
To discover where slow internet connectivity or unserved areas are in the state, the DEO assembled the Florida Broadband Availability Map. Each time someone takes the test, it locates the address provided and identifies the internet speed, connectivity and access to broadband services. Click here to take the test.
“You can track the results in fairly real time because they ask for your name, address and ZIP code and then a dot appears on the map,” Mark Sexton, Alachua County communications director, said in a phone interview. “It’s an interactive map you can get to on the site, so it’s a pretty cool tool.”
These insights allow the state of Florida to better identify and reach unserved and underserved areas of the state. The map will be an asset to local communities and internet service providers to assist with broadband planning efforts.
Alachua County carved out $15 million from its $52 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds last June to expand internet access.
“The county commission has devoted $15 million dollars of American Rescue Plans dollars to address the lack of internet access and slow internet access in the county, and the motivation for sending this out is to get a better understanding of where the problem areas are,” Sexton said.
At its Feb. 21 meeting, the Gainesville City Commission considered allocating another $9 million of its $32 million ARPA package to increase broadband access.
“I know there are conversations happening,” Sexton said. “I know the City of Gainesville is heavily involved, we’re involved, and I know some of the surrounding counties are involved. So I’m sure everyone will be part of that conversation.”
The DEO will continuously update the Florida Broadband Availability Map on their webpage.
For more information, contact Sexton at 352-264-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.