Most of you have high-speed Internet access, and you probably take for granted how easily you move about the Web. You shop, buy, read, look up scores, movie times and store hours, pay bills, renew your car registration and a whole lot more.
It's the 21st century, after all. Doesn't everyone who wants broadband have it? Nope.
There are still many pockets in rural Nevada (and there's a lot of rural Nevada) where old-fashioned dial-up is as good as it gets. For example, just 23 percent of households in Eureka County have broadband access available, compared to nearly 100 percent in Carson City. Clark County has more than 99 percent coverage.
The good news is Nevada is leading the charge to make high-speed connections available to all. The bad news is there's a lot of work ahead to make that happen.
The heavy lifting is being done by Nevada's Broadband Task Force and Connect Nevada (www.connectnv.org), part of Connected Nation (www.connectednation.com). In May the groups conducted a survey of broadband availability in the Silver State. It's a launching pad for the next steps.
"A high-speed Internet connection is the new modern lifeline. It's a fundamental tool," said Daphne DeLeon, Nevada State Librarian and chairwoman of the Nevada Broadband Task Force.
The first product of the joint effort is a broadband inventory map. It shows the offerings from 45 providers, including cable, telephone, mobile and wireless. The interactive map is at (http://bit.ly/nvbbmap). Users can see how the various types of broadband connections are dispersed. Not surprisingly, cable connections are concentrated in population centers in Clark and Washoe counties.
Direct subscriber lines, which are delivered by telephone companies, are mainly in rural communities. Mobile broadband is available in most -- but not all -- populated areas. While 96 percent of Nevada's population have speeds of at least 768 kilo bits per second available, just 78 percent of Nevada's Internet users have broadband service, according to the report.
Of those choosing not to jump onto the high-speed Web, 51 percent have no interest; 29 percent have no computer; 28 percent said service is too costly; 13 percent get access elsewhere and a handful said they have safety concerns or complain that service is too slow.
Stimulating civic engagement is one of the results when everyone can use a faster Internet. "It contributes to an interest in doing more online and people having their voices heard in their local community," said Brent Legg, director of stakeholder relations and development for Connected Nation.
The groups are developing a plan for making broadband available to everyone in the state.
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