Highland EDA Tech Committee Talks Broadband and Wireless

Monterey, VA – The technology committee of the Highland Economic Development Authority met last week to prepare for a special meeting in May with Karen Jackson, Virginia’s Deputy Secretary of Technology.

Committee member Lloyd Bird made some points about the possibility of using existing resources passing through the county to improve the internet services for Highland residents.

“It’s my understanding that Pocahontas County–the Green Bank area–has a good bit of backhaul that runs through Highland County,” said Bird. “The Seneca Rocks project in Pendleton County also has backhaul that runs through Highland County. So, the highways are there, and if we could somehow share in their backhaul, instead of just the revenue for it, I think that you’d get economies of scale by trying to ride on their backhaul.”

Backhaul refers to the intermediate parts of the area telecommunications network that connects Highland county’s suppliers like highland telephone cooperative and MGW to national networks. The use of those lines is a fundamental part of the overhead costs for the local internet providers.

Tomi Herold noted that the recent technology survey produced another interesting result.

“Out of the survey responses, there were 34 actual spontaneous write-ins concerning cell service, when that was not a question, at all on the survey,” said Herold. “That’s a pretty statistically significant number of people who are trying to be heard on the issue of cell service.”

Highland county has had DSL services since 2003, but the technology has continued to change. Technology committee chair Nancy Witschey summarizes another goal of the committee.

“We feel very fortunate–I think–that we have had broadband now for many years,” said Witschey. “So here we are, in 2010. While some of the speeds have increased, our committee feels like we’re beginning to fall behind or could fall behind what’s happening in other parts of the country, where people are getting used to more speed.”

Witschey noted that higher speed is necessary to full take advantage of streaming video, audio, and voice-over-Internet options.

The technology committee members hope this meeting with Karen Jackson will help move them closer to developing a technology plan for the county that will help stimulate further efforts to improve internet and cell phone services to county residents.

The next meeting of the EDA technology committee will be a joint meeting with the EDA board on Tuesday, May 11, at 7 p.m. in the Highland Center.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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