A series of meetings is scheduled in March and April to begin discussions on how broadband Internet access can be approved across Nebraska.
Broadband, which offers access to the Internet at a greater speed, is key to economic growth and quality of life in Nebraska.
The meetings, scheduled in eight locations, are part of a federal broadband mapping project funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, whose goal is to increase broadband access and use.
The grant was awarded to the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which has worked with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and others.
A UNL study found that 81 percent of Nebraskans had Internet access, and 76 percent of those had broadband. But the survey also revealed some gaps in Internet service among certain demographic groups, including lower-income residents, people over 65, people without a college degree and residents of non-metropolitan Nebraska.
Broadband access offers a much higher rate of data transmission than dial-up service, which relies on basic telephone service for access. The survey shows that Internet users with broadband are more likely to communicate via e-mail and use the Internet for activities such as news, social networking and online banking.
The schedule for regional forums to provide opportunities for input into broadband-access development:
March 23—Norfolk, Learning Center, 801 E. Benjamin.
March 30—Gering, Civic Center, 1050 M St.
March 31—Valentine, 4-H Building, 120 N. Green.
April 6—North Platte, Quality Inn Convention Center, 2102 S. Jeffers.
April 7—McCook, Mid-Plains Enterprise Center, 1205 E. Third.
April 13—Lincoln, Embassy Suites, 1040 P St.
April 14—Minden, Opera House, 322 E. Fifth.
April 28—Omaha, Chamber of Commerce, 1301 Harney.
All sessions will be from 1-4 p.m. local time.
At the sessions, survey results and broadband mapping data will be discussed. Regional planning teams in each area will begin to take shape. Those teams will focus on specific needs and strategies for their increasing broadband adoption and utilization of broadband to strengthen economic development and maintain quality of life.
Other collaborators in the broadband project include the Nebraska Information Technology Commission’s Community Council, Nebraska Department of Economic Development and the AIM Institute.