A lack of high-speed Internet access continues to present problems for various sectors of western Nevada County.
While for many people, high-speed Internet is a luxury, a way to view television shows in high definition or play interactive video games, for some in the local private, public and educational sectors, high-speed Internet is an indispensable element of their operations.
On Saturday, a collection of regional Internet technology experts will host a three-hour exposition, which will feature panel discussions, question-and-answer sessions and expositions from local smaller Internet service providers.
“For public, commercial and residential properties, Internet access is a significant issue,” said Jon Blinder, executive director of the Economic Resource Council.
“We want to get information out to the public about the challenges and some of the solutions. There are a lot of available services coming down the line.”
Large Internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast have made it known that providing more bandwidth to rural communities is not a company priority, as they continue to pour resources into the competitive cellular market, said John Paul, owner of Spiral Internet, an independent Internet service provider based in Nevada City.
However, as the large providers shift their focus, it provides pent-up demand for smaller locally based Internet service providers to enter the market, provide service and create local jobs, Blinder said.
In a recent survey conducted by the ERC, a dearth of Internet access “floated to the top” of a list of concerns, Blinder said.
Curtis Smith, director of technology for the Nevada Joint Union High School District, said 21st century education is increasingly reliant on the ability to navigate the World Wide Web.
“Students do everything via the Internet, from their regular homework to communicating with their teachers,” Smith said.
Furthermore, remedial classes, which used to be offered during the summer, are now offered over the Internet, Smith said. Educators have inserted Internet research skill-based classes into their curriculum as a method of preparing students for higher education and careers.
“It used to be that schools offered a library skills class,” Smith said. “Now, we teach students how to negotiate the Internet, how to identify a good resource versus a bad one.”
The Internet infrastructure for Nevada County is adequate, but certain schools have deficiencies, Smith said, who will be among the speakers during Saturday’s expo.
Steve Monaghan, chief information officer for Nevada County, said the technology available to urban and suburban areas with better broadband infrastructures exceeds what is currently available in Nevada County.
“As these advances in technology take place, we can take full advantage of them until our infrastructure is more robust,” Monaghan said in an email to The Union.
“This would include advanced video surveillance, real-time
firefighter monitoring, video monitoring, enhanced in-ambulance to ER communications
and health monitoring/diagnostics.”
California law enforcement officials have introduced enhanced services available to patrol cars that require more bandwidth than the region currently has, Monaghan said.
Some of the technological advancements include live video from the patrol car, live fingerprint scans and a criminal database, he said.
Members of the general public are encouraged to attend, said John Paul of Spiral Internet. Business owners in search of solutions and residents that are looking to upgrade their services can receive answers to specific questions during the event.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4239.