City of Duluth officials are further investigating the need for additional broadband service, Mayor Emily Larson said Friday.
The next step, she said at a morning news conference, is for people to take a survey to determine whether there is a need for the service. It will also ask participants what they believe is an affordable price.
“It is important to get this right,” Larson said.
She first said there’s a problem earlier this year in her State of the City address. The mayor contended there are stark disparities in equitable access to fast, reliable and affordable internet service, and she claimed there is only one provider, although that suggestion is not correct, especially for business customers. According to the American Community Survey, which is published by the Census, 20 percent of Duluthians are not connected, she said.
In the months following her speech, the city created an internal working group to research opportunities. It looked at 20 other regional municipalities that have developed or expanded broadband service, her office said in a Friday news release. Four service providers were reviewed, and one of them, EntryPoint, has been retained as a consultant to create a feasibility study on improving broadband to underserved persons.
Duluth officials will work with community partners and service providers to make the project a success, Larson said.
The survey can be completed in about three minutes at www.connectingduluth.com or at the Duluth Public Library.
If a proposal advances, it would be reviewed by city councilors. Funding would originate from the American Rescue Plan, where $1 million could be allocated.