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Oneida County begins internet access surveySubmitted: 04/05/2013

Lane Kimble
Assistant News Director
lkimble@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - Losing internet and cell phone service can be frustrating. It happens to some people every day, especially those who live in rural areas.

Oneida County is working to turn that trend around.

The board's Technology Committee started polling people about their internet service all across the county.

Crescent is the latest town to get its results in and the numbers aren't good. One in three people had no service at all. Fifteen percent of people with service weren't satisfied.

County Board Supervisor Bob Martini lives in Crescent. He knows limited access is a problem all across the Northwoods.

"I think most of the county would have similar numbers," Martini said. "The point is, we want to make sure people have the option to have better service so that we can increase entrepreneurship, increase jobs, improve students ability to interact with their schools at the K-12 level, improve the general life of people."

The Tech Committee plans to present its survey results to the full county board next month.

They'll then work with the board to see how the county can help to improve internet access. Martini wants to make it clear: the internet is important to everyone, whether you use it or not.

"This is the 21st century equivalent of the railroad back in the 1880s," Martini said. "It's absolutely essential, it's not an option, it's not a frill, it's important for everybody. And it'll be more important in the future."

The county can only help so much. There are state statutes that prevent counties and towns from serving as providers.

But Martini knows there are changes the board can make that will help. He suggests the county work on building towers and include laying fiber optic cables when new roads get paved.

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