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Rural communities push for better Internet service

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

Working in connection with the Public Utilities Commission and the Texas Department of Agriculture, communications companies are examining the possibility of providing broadband Internet access to rural communities.

On Tuesday, Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced a sweeping program to en

courage companies to map the state for broadband availability in an effort to provide service to those areas lacking in high-speed Internet connectivity.

“A community’s access to information is key to prosperity, especially in rural areas,” Staples said. “It is often taken for granted, but simple broadband connectivity gives Texans access to services like healthcare and education, and can provide agricultural producers high-speed access to real time market information, which can help the maximize profits.”

In April, TDA began colleting information from broadband contractors, and has used that information to determine what qualifications are needed to implement that technology. He expects the project to be funded, at least in part, by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

In Dale, residents are working with a telecommunications provider to determine interest in broadband connectivity.

Although participants in the survey, which is available at the K.Q. General Store, are not committed to signing up with service to that provider specifically, participants will receive certain concessions for their participation.

“Once the project is completed, [people who] submit this form will be allowed free subscription of Internet service for a two-year period,” said a written statement distributed by Gene Chambliss. “[Participation in the survey] will help build support for obtaining funding for installation of facilities.”

The statement suggested Dale residents could reap other benefits from participation in the survey and the installation of broadband technology.

Those benefits include cost-effective Internet access for existing and incoming small businesses, public access to the Internet, and the possibility of the installation of a “public computer library” with up to 10 computers at the Dale Community Center.

“This is a great first step to make sure no Texan – rural or urban – is passed on the information highway,” Staples said.

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