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Report finds ways to expand Internet access in Nevada
by Joshua H. Silavent
Oct 21, 2010 | 908 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy Graphic/Connect Nevada
Courtesy Graphic/Connect Nevada
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RENO — A report released Wednesday assessing the state of broadband access in Nevada is a major first step in expanding high-speed Internet availability across the state, research officials said.

The sweeping report details, among other things, Nevada’s broadband infrastructure coverage area, demographic usage information, barriers to access and subscriber costs.

The Nevada Broadband Task Force, established by executive order in 2009, commissioned the report and used data collected by the nonprofit Nevada Connect for its findings.

“This report gives us the information we need to build a sensible and immediate broadband action plan in Nevada,” said Brian Mefford, CEO of Connect Nevada’s nonprofit parent organization, Connected Nation, in a statement. “The report shows us where and how high-speed Internet is and is not currently being used in the state, and pinpoints the specific technical and adoption challenges that are keeping some Nevadans from the life-improving benefits that broadband brings.”

During a webinar presentation marking the report’s release, officials stressed the importance of providing ubiquitous broadband access to Nevadans in an age where more and more governmental and health services are available online.

Brent Legg, director of stakeholder relations and development with Connected Nation, cited the emergence of online political campaigning and fundraising as a reason to expand broadband access.

“(The Internet) provides a forum for all citizens to ask questions and get information that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them,” Legg said during the webinar.

The ability to pay tickets and property taxes, register a car and view personal medical files online also are important reasons to ensure all Nevadans have access to broadband Internet services, Legg said.

Daphne DeLeon, chair of the task force, said widespread public Internet access strengthens communities by providing a greater level of civic participation in public sector affairs.

“It is empowering Nevadans that their voice can be heard,” she said during the webinar.

The report found that 97.85 percent of Nevada households have broadband availability at a speed of at least 768 kilobytes per second.

FCC and Connect Nevada estimate that between 92 and 97 percent of households in Washoe County has broadband access at a speed greater than or equal to 3 megabytes per second.

About 78 percent of Nevada households subscribe to broadband services compared with a national average of 67 percent, according to report figures.

The report indicates that minorities, seniors, disabled persons, rural residents and low-income households are significantly less likely to have broadband subscriptions and access.

High costs and unavailability of computers were two of several barriers to access cited in the report’s findings.

The average cost of broadband service for Nevada households is $44.46 per month, more than $3 higher than the national average.

Officials said this information was essential for targeting programs to increase access and service among the aforementioned demographics.

The report, titled "Nevada Broadband: Preliminary Overview of Broadband Infrastructure & Adoption," can be found on the Connect Nevada website, www.connectnv.org.

The website provides Nevada residents a one-stop portal where they can find broadband providers for their home and work addresses, check their current Internet speeds, notify officials about unserved and underserved areas and share stories of how high-speed Internet has impacted their lives.

Connect Nevada is funded through a $3.9 million award by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecomm-unications and Information Admini-stration to launch the initiative in the state and carry out the work over a five-year period. These funds are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
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