Residents and business owners: are you satisfied with your internet provider?
Do you wish you had more choices and faster download speeds?
Are you willing to pay $10, $20, or $30 each month for 1-gig service – boasting download and upload speeds of 1,000 megabits-per-second?
From Payson to Hayden-Winkelman, from Miami east onto the San Carlos Apache Nation – Gila County wants to hear your opinion about internet availability, via a 3-minute survey with eight quick questions at connectgilacounty.com.
“The COVID pandemic makes this crystal clear: reliable internet is critical infrastructure – as essential as electricity and water,” reads an introduction on the website from Gila County Board of Supervisor Woody Cline, District 3.
“Gila County is developing a broadband strategy that engages community interest and assesses the need, network technology, infrastructure cost and various delivery alternatives for providing broadband services throughout Gila County. We are committed to a broadband network that is affordable, smart, and future-proof fiber network, countywide, as extensive as practical, competitive, and open to all interested internet service providers."
Starting in 2019, Gila County leaders invited stakeholders to small-team meetings, brainstorming how to improve connectivity. Participants learned that more than 900 communities in the U.S. have some form of a publicly owned broadband network: some municipal utilities are cooperatives, others private/public partnerships, and some are wholly-owned. A common theme for these publicly owned broadband utilities is that they lower cost to subscribers, invite competition among internet service providers, and increase the speed and reliability of the network.
The next three quarters of 2021 will bring more engagement with communities within Gila County to add their voices as a comprehensive strategic and business plan takes shape for the road ahead, possibly leading toward a public fiber-optic network. During this process, the county will share information, update all stakeholders, and answer questions via connectgilacounty.com; community meetings, and media outreach.