Submitted by Nisqually Indian Tribe
The Nisqually Indian Tribe needs Thurston County residents, especially those with slow or no broadband service, to participate in a speed test survey on a website as part of their work to bring faster broadband internet to parts of rural Thurston County.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington state’s shortcomings regarding internet access became increasingly clear. As Washington residents were required to work or attend school from home, access to Wi-Fi was a necessity. Initially, the Nisqually Indian Tribe worked to bring high speed broadband to the reservation where no access to high-speed internet existed.
With the help of the Washington Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) and tribal funding, the tribe provided high speed broadband services to all homes and other facilities on the reservation.
“As part of this on-reservation effort, the tribe became aware of those remaining rural areas in Thurston and Pierce Counties where broadband services are still not available,” said Willie Frank III, the Chairman of the Nisqually Tribe. The tribe had now started the process to expand accessibility off reservation.
“As part of receiving federal funds to help complete this work, we need to have an idea of how many are underserved in Thurston County,” said Paul Walk, RedLine Communications consultant for Nisqually. “Our goal is to get response from 2 percent of the 217,00 people in the county. We are also doing in person surveys, so you might get a knock your door also,” said Walk. The goal is to finish the survey by the first or second week of September.
Of the 1,000 surveys already completed, some 30 percent have decent internet, but most report the upload and download speeds are inconsistent.
“Our survey has a check box for not having internet at all as well,” said Walk.
The tribe has also developed and operates a successful fiber optic aerial and underground construction company that is carrying out fiber installation work throughout the state.
The tribe is a member of Thurston County Broadband Action Team as one of the county’s implementers.