Socorro County is currently participating in a broadband survey which tests the internet download speed and upload speed.

The City of Socorro Mayor Ravi Bhasker said that taking the survey, which is being done by Finley Engineering, is very important because it could help secure a Reconnect America grant. The grant would be used to lay down the infrastructure that would be used for broadband internet.

“There should have been money for us, but we could never get it off the ground,” Bhasker said. “We were hoping and we spent about $60,000 for this study. The partners are NRAO, the county and the city. We all put up money to do it. Hopefully, it’s going to get us some grants.”

According to Bhasker, the city would need $4 or $5 million in grants for the infrastructure. If the city is not allowed access to the poles that are owned by the Socorro Electric Cooperative, they will have to dig trenches in the streets to lay down the fibers.

“If we can get a grant to put the system in, we could either run it through the city, we could run it together with the city and a private company or we would just give it to the private company and charge them a fee for using it,” Bhasker said.

Bhasker said that Sierra County, who also had their study done by Finely Engineering, received a grant for $6 million and were able to get 1,400 people connected. The biggest difference, Bhasker said, is they were allowed to use the poles. On the City of Socorro website, there are three links for the broadband study — one for a residential survey, one for a business survey and one for the speed test.

“You take that speed test and if it’s less than 10 and if it’s not, take it again,” Bhakser said. “I took it and it was at 12 and I took it again five minutes later and it was at two — that’s download. Upload, it never gets over .2 or .3. It should be 10 up and 10 down. It should be 25 up and 25 down. But you are never going to get that.”

Bhasker said that roughly 150 people have taken the speed test, but the city needs 400 or 500 people taking the test so it can be proven that the internet is not up to par and does not have constant connectivity. It is very important for people to take the study right now because the internet speeds need to be more reliable with students doing school from home. There are also students at New Mexico Tech who are doing online classes.

“Off campus, for professors or anybody, and now for our school children, they are having all kinds of problems to the point where the schools, I think, bought hot spots for the kids,” Bhasker said. “All that should have given us a reason.”

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