Polk Broadband Plan - Page 11

POLK COUNTY BROADBAND PLAN Broadband Needs in Polk County Anchor Institutions and Businesses Figure 1 shows Anchor Institutions and employment density in Polk County along with municipal and commercial fiber optic broadband coverage. There are several areas with Anchor Institutions and concentrated employment outside the current range of fiber coverage, notably in the areas of Lake Wales and Frostproof. Two universities, Warner University and Webber International University, are in areas not served by fiber. Fiber service is planned for the Florida Polytechnic University campus that is under construction in northeast Lakeland. Figure 1. Anchor Institutions, Employment Density, and Fiber Coverage Residents Compared to Florida and the United States, Polk County’s residents have lower wages, higher unemployment, higher poverty rates, and lower educational attainment. Like many areas of transitioning economy and culture, Polk County has experienced a decline in industries that previously provided generous employment. Improved broadband access opens up a wide range of new possibilities to residents. Just a few examples are online education and training, online banking and other financial tools, research opportunities for students, and networking for business and employment. Survey data collected in 2012 indicated that approximately 80 percent of Polk County residents have home internet service. Residents without home internet service most often cited cost as their reason for not having it. Making broadband more accessible, reliable, and affordable in under-served areas can dramatically improve the quality of life for residents. Figure 2 shows existing commercial fiber and cable coverage overlaid upon population density at the censusblock level. Although cable coverage is extensive throughout the county, fiber coverage is not available in several areas, especially in the southern half of the county. 9