Clinton County Hosts Broadband Internet Meeting

Clinton County Broadband MeetingA broadband (high speed internet) meeting was held in the Clinton County Board Room on July 12, 2012. Sixteen community leaders and three staff members of Partnership for a Connected Illinois (PCI) attended the meeting. Barb Webster of PCI was the main speaker for the meeting and broadband topics were discussed at length.

The group learned how to find potential internet providers for any address by going to a computer with internet access (the library or friend’s house) and typing in www.broadbandillinois.org. Barb Webster said “Click on the ‘Find and Request Broadband’ button at top. Then enter the address in the white box at the left. Click ‘Want Better Options’ button in the upper right above the list of carriers if you wish to send an email to the providers that may serve your address to let them know you have an interest.” She said even after sending that email, it is a good idea to call the provider that you have an interest in to get questions answered about service. To find what providers serve the county, the group learned they can use this tool. A link to PCI’s website is on Clinton County’s webpage.

The group learned that PCI is funded through a federal and state grant and has been assisting communities around the state to evaluate their access, adoption, and data in regards to broadband needs. PCI also works as a neutral party in order to bring providers together with community leaders and residents in order to assist with broadband access and adoption needs.

The importance of broadband in regards to education, healthcare, tourism, government services, communications, and other key areas was discussed. When discussing broadband access/availability, it was found that several of the towns in Clinton County had good current coverage, but may need to consider future demand. It was also found that there are issues in the more rural areas which may stem from people needing to be aware of what broadband is available to them, or may be a result of providers needing to be made aware of pockets of unserved/underserved demand so that they can consider if it is financially feasible to expand into those areas. The importance of community leaders staying in touch with local providers was discussed.

An internet adoption discussion found that there were good means of training in the area for people who wish to learn about the internet and basic computers. Kaskaskia College offers short classes on a regular basis. In addition, most seniors over 60 years old can take classes at no cost. Contact Cydney Richardson at the Kaskaskia College office of Community Education at 618-545-3256 or email at crichardson@kaskaskia.edu. Also, local libraries may offer some training or help for individual users as well as free use of computers.

Another internet adoption issue is cost. For those who are unable to pay a monthly fee for internet, PCI is working to create a database of available locations in the region with public computer access. Usually the local library is the first place to start. For those with a laptop, PCI is working to document locations with public WiFi access. Both will be listed under "eTeams," and "Southwest Central" on Broadband Illinois.

Some of the basics of broadband internet were also discussed. Not all providers can serve all residents. Cable is usually restricted to towns. DSL (through phone company) is usually restricted to towns with access and usually only goes a few miles from those towns. Wireless is restricted by distance from tower and also trees/hills/etc.    Satellite can serve anywhere but usually has download limits and does not always allow consistent video feed/phone over internet/gaming/etc. Cellular has broad coverage but also usually has download limits.

A regional group will be meeting in Edwardsville in the next couple months to discuss access and adoption needs in the region. If you wish to be included in the invitation, or if there are questions or access needs that can't be resolved through the above information, call Barb Webster, Regional Coordinator for PCI,  at 618-843-8433 or email barbara.webster@broadbandillinois.org

Tags: Clinton County, eTeams, Kaskaskia College

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