SL chamber to conduct broadband survey

The Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce hopes to assess high speed internet limitations faced by local businesses.

The chamber's executive director, Sylvie Nelson, says a survey has been sent out to local businesses, the goal of which is to identify broadband needs in the Tri-Lakes area.

The project is being conducted in partnership with the Google the Adirondacks group, Nelson says.

A similar survey was conducted earlier this year, with some 93 percent of households in the Saranac Lake Central School District responding that they had some form of internet access. 85 percent of those respondents had access to high-speed services like cable, DSL, and wireless.

The goal of the latest survey, Nelson says, is to continue an effort to expand broadband access in rural areas.

"What we want to know is what kind of service our businesses have," she said. "Do they need an upgraded service that they don't currently have access to? That's what this survey is about."

According to Nelson, boosting the area's high speed internet capabilities helps organizations like the Trudeau Institute or the Adirondack Medical Center, who rely on broadband for a fluid exchange of information.

The Google the Adirondacks project was launched in response to Google's Fiber for Communities competition. The effort aims to equip communities with ultra high speed broadband access.

Google expected to announce the winners in December of last year, but extended its deadline in order to process the more than 1,000 applications it received, according to Nelson.

"It's been a year now since we submitted our application, so we're still waiting," she said.

The chamber survey will be distributed electronically to members, who Nelson hopes will respond quickly. Non-members are urged to contact the chamber if they wish to participate.

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