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Commissioner urges Morgan County residents to participate in broadband challenge

Apr 18, 2024 11:29AM ● By Linda Peterson

Connecting Utah Map of Broadband Service Availability shows good broadband coverage in Morgan County but this is inaccurate, County Commissioner Blaine Fackrell says. Courtesy image

Morgan County residents now have an opportunity to help ensure the county is covered with adequate internet service. While Morgan City is serviced by Utopia and Croydon has internet provided by All West Communications, much of the coverage across the county is spotty. Official state and federal estimates put those without any internet or adequate internet in Morgan County at 7 percent.

However, that figure was arrived at based on information submitted by service providers and is not accurate, County Commissioner Blaine Fackrell said. In reality, close to 40 percent of the unincorporated county has inadequate service, he said.

“They say that they cover those areas, but people on Morgan Valley Drive still cannot get the internet that is going right down that road, and can't get it to their house,” Fackrell said.

“Many people cannot get reliable internet without going to a satellite, or their cell phones,” he said. “And that's the thing they are trying to prove. We can pay for a high cost of satellite, like Starlink or Hughes or we can use our cell phones that get us throttled down after a certain amount. And so, what we're trying to do is do this without those three items.”

In early 2021 Morgan County paid Liberty Broadband $100,000 to provide internet connection throughout the whole county. 

“They have done that; they have put it in but it's Wi-Fi,” Fackrell said.

The federal government is seeking to have the whole country covered by fiber, but Fackrell wonders if it makes more sense just to ensure the county has adequate Wi-Fi.

‘They want us to all have fiber,” Fackrell said, “and I'm of the opinion I get just as good a coverage with my Wi-Fi as I do with fiber. And so why not give us some money to be able to get even faster?”

“We're looking at making sure the whole county gets covered,” Fackrell said. “Not everybody's going to get fiber because we're so spread out — we're in between valleys, we're in between mountains —but to get to where we can put up a Wi-Fi dish is what we're trying to get accomplished right now.”

Morgan County residents can help make that a reality by participating in a statewide “Challenge” process to verify the accurate internet service levels by location beginning this week. According to the Utah Broadband Center, those with internet speeds between 25/3 MBPS and 100/20 MBPS are considered underserved. Unserved is defined by speeds below 25/3 MBPS.

To participate Morgan County residents can go to where they can submit internet speed tests for three different days during the challenge period. Step-by-step instructions for completing the challenge are available at (Steps 7 through 9). A link to the challenge will also be available on the Morgan County website beginning April 18. 

If they can only do so through their satellite connection or phone they should note that on their submission, Fackrell said. Those without internet access should go to the library and do the test there, making sure to note on their submission that they do not have internet access at home, he added.

After a challenge is received for a broadband serviceable location, that location will be designated as “challenged” on the map being compiled by the Utah Broadband Center. Available funding will go to the communities that demonstrate the most need.

“There is money available, we just have to prove that we needed more than somebody else,” Fackrell said.

Fackrell is asking residents without internet access or those who have it through a satellite connection but would like to change to call him at 801-668-0101 so that he can document the lack of coverage.

Adequate internet coverage is vital to the future of Morgan County, he said, “for communication, and the students need it for their education and adults need it for businesses. We can't have businesses, we can't have commercial growth that everybody wants or economic growth. without the internet. It is so important.” λ

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