Cumberland County officials are asking residents to complete a broadband internet survey to test connection speeds.
County Mayor Allen Foster said Cumberland residents have struggled with reliable broadband services for several years.
“We’ve noticed that there’s a problem with the actual maps that the FCC uses that are used to award grants,” Foster said. “I’ve talked with the FCC, I’ve talked with the state, and everybody knows there’s a problem. What I’m trying to do with this survey is for everyone to go online, do a speed test so we can just get some results.”
The FCC’s location summary for Cumberland County shows communities like Crab Orchard and Pleasant Hill have limited connection options compared to Crossville or Lake Tansi.
Until now, Foster said not much has been done to help remedy the issue at hand.
“Most of the counties all around Cumberland County have fiber access to the home. That is a very rare thing here in Cumberland County. We don’t have that, we have a lot of copper going to the homes,” Foster said. “Our local Teleco has not made any significant infrastructure investments, so when that happens it gets you behind the game so to speak.”
Foster said he was somewhat surprised when he learned earlier this week that Twin Lakes was chosen to receive $1.2 million in grant funding to help expand broadband coverage in Jackson, Putnam, and Smith Counties. The Department of Economic and Community Development announced nearly $15 million in total broadband expansion across the state which did not include Cumberland County.
“A couple of the providers that are in Cumberland County are receiving large grants but they’re not for Cumberland County,” Foster said. “That’s because the maps the FCC uses shows that we have better access than what we truly do. It’s kind of a Catch 22, we can’t get the grants aren’t right, but the maps aren’t right because the reporting is wrong.”
Foster said the data collected from the broadband survey will be used to help make their case in advocating for expanded broadband services. Then, Foster added, the data will encourage broadband companies to expand into Cumberland County.
“We need someone that is willing to make those capital investments so that we can get fiber to the home,” Foster said. “That’s the wave of the future, and most of the counties around us right now already have that. Cumberland County is a bit of a unique area in that we’re behind some of the much more rural counties that surround us.”
The survey asks Cumberland County residents to use SpeedTest.net to see their download and upload speeds through their current WiFi provider. Results will then need to be entered through the county’s website as part of the survey, in which results and personal information will be kept confidential.