UNL CropWatch Feb. 18, 2011 8 Forums to Explore Broadband Use, Needs for Nebraska

UNL CropWatch Feb. 18, 2011 8 Forums to Explore Broadband Use, Needs for Nebraska

Feb. 18, 2011

A series of meetings is scheduled in March and April to begin discussions on how broadband Internet access can be improved 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 to increase broadband access and use. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Dates and Locations

Regional forums will be held from 1-4 p.m. at the following sites and dates to provide input for 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

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% 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. 

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.