The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed by Congress in 2009, is providing $7.2 billion to expand access to broadband services in the United States. The South Dakota Bureau of Information & Telecommunications or BIT, has received $5,729,415 of that to help fund their Broadband Data and Development project. This project includes many smaller sub-projects, including a couple where they need your help.
The sub-projects that BIT has planned include projects that will expand the Broadband Advisory Team, provide support for technology teams to assess and support the network needs of Community Anchor Institutions, provide sub-grants that will allow for the purchase of equipment or software as well as collect relevant data and create a comprehensive, state-wide address file. These projects will benefit state-run institutions as well as private companies and the general public.
The benefits of this project are easy to see and are neatly listed on their website. The major benefit that BIT is advertising for the general public is faster and more widely available access to the internet. Anything you do, including connecting with your friends and family, telecommuting to your job, watching your grandson play basketball in real-time from 1,200 miles away or buying your fishing license online will all be faster and easier than ever. These are all real reasons that South Dakotans just like you have already posted at Broadband.SD.Gov.
Now here is where you come in. The state needs your help. Go to Broadband.SD.Gov and click on the Get Involved tab. There you will find many ways to help this project and even help your area get better internet access.
The easiest way to help out is by taking the speed test. Click the speed test link, type in your address and click Take Speed Test. This will test your connection speed and put it into a database to let BIT know where the best and worst internet connections are. Information like this will allow BIT to focus on the areas that need the most help. If you don’t do anything else, at least do this. It literally takes less than two minutes to click the button and let the test run. You can do this many times and from as many locations as possible to give the state as much usable data as possible.
The state is also asking 605 residents to take different surveys and to fill out where there is a lack of internet services. You can provide your story about how broadband has impacted your life as well as how you use the internet. Also providing the locations of free, public wifi hotspots will allow them to more easily know where the infrastructure needs to be built and improved upon most across the state.
For the most up-to-date information on BIT and all of the broadband projects they are working on and for the best ways to get involved, visit Broadband.SD.Gov. Listed along the side are all the project goals, benefits and ways to get involved.