Western Nevada Development District launches broadband speed test

Nevada Speed Test branding.

Nevada Speed Test branding. Courtesy: WNDD

The Western Nevada Development District is partnering with local governments to launch the Nevada Speed Test, a project aiming to bring reliable broadband service to the region’s most unserved and underserved homes and businesses.

“This connectivity is a cornerstone to business, education, financial literacy, access to employment and healthcare through telemedicine,” according to a Nov. 4 press release.

Nevadans are asked to pinpoint locations by visiting nevadaspeedtest.org, a mapping tool that measures internet speeds.

By analyzing home and business connectivity, strategies can be identified and funding solutions pursued that improve regional broadband infrastructure, per the release.

The Nevada Speed Test is a primary element of the Western Nevada Broadband Initiative, a coalition of local governments that are members of WNDD to engage in regional economic development planning.

“As local communities are dealing with community connectivity, or trying to apply for federal grants, we are running into challenges with the data that is needed to support those projects and grant applications,” Reno City Councilwoman Naomi Duerr, who also serves as WNDD president, said in a statement.

The speed test and mapping hardware was created by GEO Partners LLC, a Minnesota-based tech company that analyzes real-time internet speed data by collecting speed test information from residents. GEO is an independent broadband data collection and analysis firm with extensive experience and not affiliated with any internet service providers (ISPs).

The Nevada Speed Test may be performed on any device that has an internet or cellular connection and takes less than one minute to complete. Residents are asked only to take the speed test from their residence, place of business or school; no personal information will be collected, according to WNDD.

Speed test information will be superimposed on layers of GIS data for the region and will help pinpoint areas that are most in need of reliable, affordable access to broadband service. The tool can also create project cost estimates, measuring everything from topography to types of fiber construction methods and materials.

“Data is a critical piece to help local broadband groups and regional governments invest where service is needed and to avoid overbuilding infrastructure,” Duerr said. “With their groundbreaking work in other states, GEO Partners is a perfect fit.”

The Nevada Speed Test is particularly timely with the American Rescue Plan calling for $10 billion for broadband and other projects through the COVID Capital Projects Fund. At least $100 million is expected to come to Nevada.

Another $42.5 billion for broadband has been included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill presently working its way through Congress. If enacted, this will mean a further $300 to $400 million to Nevada for broadband.

The Western Nevada Broadband Initiative will make this data available to local government partners to better provide the services citizens need and to use the date to capture federal grant funding.

“The Western Nevada Broadband initiative is interested in this mapping information being available to decision-makers so that they can provide the service that their citizens need,” WNDD Vice President Heidi Lusby-Angvick, Director of the Pershing County Economic Development Authority, said in a statement. “This speed test and mapping initiative will also provide information so that we can be more competitive in grant applications.”

Members of the Western Nevada Broadband Initiative include City of Reno, City of Sparks. City of Fernley, City of Lovelock, City of Fallon, City of Winnemucca, Douglas County, Washoe County, Storey County, Mineral County, Pershing County and Humboldt County. Marketing partners include the Nevada Farm Bureau and the Nevada Rural Housing Authority and WNDD’s Associate Members.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment