Broadband project important because service in Ely is poor

If your internet service is like watching paint dry, there’s some good news that came out of a meeting on Tuesday.
Here’s what we’ve learned:
• Your neighbors feel the same way. Internet service in Ely is bad. Survey results found more than 90 percent of people are not satisfied with their internet connectivity.
• This is a big deal. The survey said 93 percent of the people who responded feel internet access is very important to them.
• Businesses are in the same boat. Not only does their internet service at home stink, what they have at work isn’t much better.
• Hope is on the way. Two pilot projects, one with fiber to businesses and the other using 80-foot towers to broadcast signals across Shagawa and Burntside lakes could be a big step in the right direction.
How long it will take to start improving a bad situation is unknown. But with the study results in, there is a progress, something we haven’t been able to say for quite some time.
The survey wasn’t mailed to everyone, each respondent had to make an effort to log in or track down a paper survey.
Of the 399 residential surveys, 78 were removed because they were outside the study area (meaning they don’t live within the Ely school district). Fall Lake Township chose not to participate, hoping that the Lake Connections project will actually come to full fruition some day.
There were 74 business responses with just 12 that had to be pulled since they were outside the study area.
An interesting point about the business responses, 98 percent said they need better internet services and they are located where the highest available speeds should be found.
The survey results are not surprising if you live and work here. We know both Frontier and Midco are not equipped to provide better services in the Ely area. Unless one or both step up their game and make a multi-million dollar investment in infrastructure, we have to look at other options.
The report from Design Nine isn’t complete yet. We should see a final version with cost figures attached within the next month. Those cost figures for a fiber loop in the downtown and towers put up on Shagawa and Burntside lakes will help lay the foundation for other projects.
Clustered homes would be logical locations to provide high speed internet, for outside the city limits that could include areas like Winton or Romberg Acres or lake homes outside of Shagawa and Burntside.
For those who live outside of town and suffer from having snail pace internet connections, there is no magic wand here. This just means our leaders are going to have to work harder and look to people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and come up with solutions.
Here’s a couple factoids that we found interesting and sadly amusing:
• There were three people who responded who still have dial up.
• Harold Langowski said Frontier told him every business should have two internet companies for redundancy in case one conks out.
• Design Nine stated in five years we could see enough towers to serve all of the students and the businesses.
Five years is a long time in today’s digital world. But tall trees and rock ledges have been around a lot longer. And they’re winning.