Kansas officials will soon have an up-to-date map of broadband service availability across the state as a way to help close the coverage gap.
About one-third of Kansans live in rural communities where it can be tough to get reliable high-speed internet access.
To help identify the problem areas, the state is working with the Kentucky-based nonprofit Connected Nation to create a map of wired and wireless broadband coverage.
Stanley Adams, director of Broadband Initiatives at the Kansas Department of Commerce, says quality internet access is critical for communities to attract, retain and grow businesses.
"It’s gone from a 'nice to have' to a “necessity,'" Adams says. "You can’t conduct business without internet access, and depending on the complexity of the type of business you have, you have to have reliable service."
Connected Nation will use data from the state’s broadband service providers and public feedback for the map.
Adams says the map will provide an updated snapshot of where coverage gaps exist.
"One of the things that I expect that we are going to see is that broadband coverage has improved since the last time we had a complete data set, which was as of June 2014," Adams says.
A state task force will use the map to help address broadband access issues and expand infrastructure. The Statewide Broadband Expansion Planning Task Force was created earlier this year.
Adams will collaborate with the task force to update those maps, which display the level of broadband speed that is available in areas across the state.
The governor’s office received a $300,000 grant from the Information Network of Kansas for the mapping project.
“Access to quality broadband services is vital for Kansas communities to compete for jobs and people, and we can’t improve what we don’t measure,” Gov. Jeff Colyer said in a news release. “Producing this statewide broadband map positions our state for long-term growth in the rapidly expanding digital economy and helps us ensure that all Kansans are benefitting from these new opportunities.”
The first draft of the map will be ready by Dec. 31.