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Expanding broadband in Johnson County

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

Johnson County is one of many areas making steps towards improved broadband services. Approximately a month ago, county officials announced $1.2 million in government funding to expand high-speed internet capabilities. Now the county is investing $10,000 from extra COVID-19 funding to help expand fiber optics through SkyBest, which recently expanded through Sutherland with reported success.

According to County Mayor Mike Taylor, SkyBest went door-to-door surveying locals on internet needs. Through this, officials selected around seven areas for expansion at this point, including all of Airport Road (minus the actual airport), Crackers Neck Road (addresses through 1000), Noah Snyder Road (addresses through 663), all of Old Noah Snyder Road, Cabbage Patch Lane (addresses through 239), Roan Creek Road (addresses from 1995 through 3124), and all of Mining Town Road.

“All of these areas we get, they’re just going to help us get more,” commented Taylor. “Broadband is a big need in lots of counties, not just ours. We’re moving in the right direction a little bit at a time.”

Taylor reports that support from the chosen areas would likely make further expansion possible. At the time of this article, he estimated about 20 more people needed to come forward, some of which may have already done so. Anyone in the current expansion area interested in the update should visit skybest.com, click the Submit Your Interest link, and fill in the information to help garner support (Click here for the direct link).

To further the cause, Johnson County commissioners passed a resolution designating the county as a Broadband Ready Community. They also created a Broadband Committee to oversee projects in the future. According to Taylor, the first meeting will most likely be in early April.

Both the resolution and committee are a part of the county’s process to keep expanding. Taylor explained that government entities and other grant organizations judge applications based on rubrics, and these additions improve Johnson County’s chances of receiving more funds.

Taylor has “high hopes” for the fiber optics expansion project. He spoke to SkyBest officials this past Friday, and both parties hope to start the updates as soon as possible. As Taylor said, the project is “a go.” Currently, there are no other expansions planned, but the area is open and the Broadband Committee is prepped for future opportunities.

Anyone with questions on the broadband expansion may contact the Johnson County Mayor’s office at (423) 727-9696. See more information on SkyBest at skybest.com.