Bossier Parish leaders working towards securing broadband internet for rural areas

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Courtesy Photo

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

Access to affordable high-speed internet is essential for rural communities to compete in today’s economy and Bossier Parish leaders are doing something about it.

Recently the National Association of Counties (NACo) launched the mobile app “TestIT” to identify areas with low connectivity to help ensure adequate funding for broadband infrastructure.

The purpose for the App is to help identify areas with low or no connectivity to help ensure adequate funding for broadband infrastructure is provided across the country.

A snapshot of each sample will be sent to a database which will allow NACo and its partners to analyze connectivity across the country.

“If anyone is unhappy with their service, this is their opportunity to be heard. This is going someplace,” said Bossier Parish Administrator Bill Altimus. “I am talking to other organizations asking to help us on this because I think everybody understands the issue, and if this helps us to move forward then it’s all worth it.”

Connectivity data provided by Internet service providers is often inaccurate and inflated, leaving many rural communities overlooked and disconnected.

“You have people working from home, doctors reading x-rays from home, children doing homework, not to mention first responders in the field. How can they do all that when they don’t have the capability to download what they need ?” Bossier Parish Administrator Bill Altimus said.

Approximately 2,000 counties and parishes from around the country are also asking their residents to practice in this scientific study.

“NACo is asking everyone to do it because what they’ll do is take all those data points, present it to the FCC, and then to Congress,” Altimus said. “There are too many people in the country that have tremendous issues with connecting.”

Downloading the mobile app gives permission to collect only connectivity data from a mobile phone. Collected data includes upload speed, download speed, time of day, geographic location, IP address and connection type.

TestIT does not authorize users to allow storage of information that would associate individuals with their history of tests. The app does not collect personal or otherwise identifiable information. 

TestIT users will also be able to check their broadband speed average against that of other countries, using the app’s Speedtest Global Index. The feature ranks mobile and fixed broadband speeds from around the world on a monthly basis.