(Indianapolis, IN) - A do-it-yourself free internet speed test statewide is viewed as a breakthrough in extending adequate broadband quicker to underserved Hoosiers.
Close to 20,000 tests have been run on computers and devices since the speed test was made available to the public on the Indiana Farm Bureau website in late May.
The LaPorte County Office of Economic and Community Development Executive Director Tony Rodriguez said the game changer is the speed test reveals the provider at each location.
Rodriguez said that allows communities to expand access to higher speeds to go directly to providers they know have the capability instead of searching for companies they hope can meet their needs.
Another advantage is knowing exactly where an upgrade is needed instead of a general area.
“That’s the nut Indiana Farm Bureau cracked,” he said.
According to INFB, the speed test was developed by GEO Partners, LLC.
The software company out of Burnsville, Minnesota, is also gathering internet speed data in five other states, including Kentucky, INFB said.
Marissa Mikel, an Indiana Farm Bureau Regional Manager for six counties, including Lake, Porter, and LaPorte, said the results confirm suspicions that the need for higher internet speeds is most significant in the rural areas.
“It definitely proves what we’ve been hearing,” she said.
The results are shown in color-coded dots on a map of the state posted on the Indiana Farm Bureau website. Mikel said a red dot marks an area with less than 10 megabytes of speed which isn’t enough to run a business and, in some cases, work or learn from home. She said adequate speed considered 25 megabytes or more are marked on the map with green dots.
INFB President Randy Kron said the data would help the state invest where adequate service is needed and develop infrastructure that doesn’t overlap.
In LaPorte County, the map revealed tests were conducted at 291 locations with the highest speeds provided at just six locations by Automated Data Systems and DataCamp. Most customers with adequate speed in La Porte County are served by Comcast Cable Communications, Frontier Communications, and Surf Air Wireless.
Tests were run at 170 locations in Porter County. According to the map, the highest speed providers listed in Porter County were Comcast Cable Communications and Northwestern Indiana Telephone Company.
According to the map, there were 293 tests in Lake County with the fastest speeds, mostly from Comcast Cable Communications and Education Networks of America.
Mikel said testing would be available for an indefinite period. Still, communities can now use the results to seek federal and state grants to help offset a provider’s cost of extending adequate service. She said the data should help secure funding by confirming exactly where the greatest needs exist, she said.
Indiana Farm Bureau will also present the data to the state legislature to try and leverage more broadband extension dollars when the governing body meets in January for its 2022 session.