Sno-Isle Libraries joins effort to assess region’s broadband access

Broadband access is critical to all residents of Washington and Sno-Isle Libraries, through its own efforts and supporting work at the county, state and federal levels, is helping to bring this needed service to more people.

The Snohomish County Council and County Executive Dave Somers have declared March 29-April 2 as Broadband Access Week in the county.

“The goal of Broadband Access Week is to raise public awareness of broadband needs and increase responses to the speed and access survey on the State Broadband Office’s website,” Somers wrote in a message to Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Lois Langer Thompson.

Results from the survey will contribute to a state mapping initiative to help identify gaps in high-speed internet service and areas of broadband infrastructure needs in order to advance the state’s goal to have universal broadband access in Washington by 2024. The State Broadband Office is part of the state Department of Commerce.

As part of its services to customers and communities across Snohomish and Island counties, Sno-Isle Libraries offers no-fee wireless broadband access at all 23 library buildings.

“Public libraries are critical facilitators to broadband access,” Sno-Isle Libraries Director of Information Technology Nick Fuchs said. “To ensure consistent broadband access as speeds increase and technology improves, libraries are working to give customers the best digital experience for their online activities.”

Broadband and Wi-Fi are used by customers to access library eBooks and eAudio books, stream TV and movies, use e-government services and distance learning, search for jobs, utilize telemedicine and many other essential community services.

In 2019, the state Legislature enacted Second Substitute Senate Bill 5511, recognizing that broadband access is critical to the residents of Washington. The law set out a collaborative process to reach a goal the goal of providing access to affordable broadband to all residents by 2024.

The state’s survey is part of that process and Sno-Isle Libraries urges all customers to participate, which should take about a minute to complete, according to the State Broadband Office.

The information provided is confidential and the survey does not collect any personal information or use tracking cookies. It does retain the respondents’ location and speed test results. During the survey, respondents should not have other internet uses such as streaming videos or gaming using the connection at the same time.

The Federal Communications Commission is preparing to offer assistance to households that have struggled to pay for high-speed internet access during the pandemic.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit would provide discounts for monthly fees and purchases for eligible households. The FCC is still finalizing enrollment details for the benefit program and no date has been set for implementation.

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