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November 15, 2012 9:05 am

EDITORIAL: Broadband access key to a vibrant economy

Written by Ilene Olson

Two statewide events this fall recognize the increasing importance of broadband Internet access and technology for economic development and for improved employment and quality of life.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead told attendees at the Wyoming Broadband Summit on Oct. 23 that connectivity to the Internet is critical to Wyoming’s success.

“Particularly in a rural state, the ability to communicate through broadband is an equalizer, bringing telemedicine, tele-education and telecommunication to small towns,” Mead said.

Mead noted that broadband Internet access increased in the past two years from 54 percent of the state to 85 percent.

However, he also noted that, as broadband access efforts move into more rural areas, they also become more difficult and expensive.

But, thanks to the foresight of local leaders, the city of Powell was among the leaders of this digital revolution. Rather than waiting for existing service providers to bring in high-speed Internet, Powell leaders envisioned Powellink, a community-wide high-speed fiber-optic Internet system. The effort was endorsed by entities such as schools, Powell Valley Healthcare and many business owners, and the city found an investment company to finance the effort.

In a June 2011 story, “The Daily Yonder” called Powellink “one of the great success stories in broadband.

“Ultimately, it was imaginative thinking and the selection of effective, creative partners that gave Powell its opportunity to make a big broadband impact on its small community,” the online publication said. “Others should pay close attention to the lessons learned here.”

Powellink has put Powell on the broadband map, making it possible for businesses to network and compete on a global level, and for local residents to work from their homes by telecommuting with businesses in population centers throughout the world. The network also has enhanced area college students’ abilities to take distance courses over the Internet.

TCT West later worked to complete a fiber-optic broadband system in Cody as well.

Last month’s broadband summit brought together people from various Internet services, businesses and technology experts to brainstorm other ways to increase broadband access in the state.

To facilitate broadband access efforts across the state, the Wyoming Department of Transportation now plans to install conduit for broadband cables alongside state roads during construction projects.

Other efforts, particularly in sparsely populated rural areas, focus on providing wireless Internet access through satellite services.

Meanwhile, state and local government, organization and business leaders will meet in Cheyenne for the Wyoming Forum today (Thursday) and Friday, Nov. 16 to hear about and discuss, among other things, how technology and innovation drive Wyoming business.

These and other efforts must continue if Wyoming is to be a serious contender in an economy that is increasingly dependent on broadband access and e-commerce.

2 comments

  • Comment Link November 15, 2012 9:49 am posted by TN

    Waste of money

  • Comment Link November 15, 2012 11:31 am posted by clipstein

    Yep and you forgot to mention the fact of how muchthis cost the taxpayers... 7 million and when if was such a good deal a private company would have put it in....
    Why is Deaver getting new business when Powell is on the cutting edge???
    Of course do not want to bring up the 7 million and the fact it is losing money..
    Karma is heck

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