Broadband needs subject of series of meetings


Statewide planning to address current and future broadband needs will continue in 2011 with a series of regional meetings. The regional meetings also will help identify how regions in the state can address and help increase adoption and use of broadband services.

The meetings, set for March and April in eight locations, are the next stage in the federal broadband mapping project funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which aims to increase broadband access and adoption.

The grant was awarded to the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which has worked with UNL and others.

UNL conducted a survey last winter that found that 81 percent of Nebraskans had Internet access, and 76 percent of those had broadband. But the survey also revealed some gaps in Internet service among certain demographic groups, including lower-income residents, people over 65, people without a college degree and residents of non-metropolitan Nebraska.

Broadband access offers a much higher rate of data transmission than dial-up service, which relies on basic telephone service for access. The survey shows that Internet users with broadband are more likely to communicate via e-mail and use the Internet for activities such as news, social networking and online banking.

The schedule for regional forums to provide opportunities for input into broadband-access development:

March 23 – Norfolk
March 30 – Gering
March 31 – Valentine
April 6 – North Platte
April 7 – McCook
April 13 – Lincoln
April 14 – Minden
April 28 – Omaha

All sessions will be from 1-4 p.m., locations to be announced later.

At the sessions, survey results and broadband mapping data will be discussed. Regional planning teams in each area will begin to take shape. Those teams will focus on specific needs and strategies for their regions.

The survey is available online at: Nebraska Public Service Commission

Other collaborators in the broadband project include the Nebraska Information Technology Commission's Community Council, Nebraska Department of Economic Development and the AIM Institute.

- Dan Moser, IANR News