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Recent News // USDA Brings Broadband to Nevada’s Frontier Towns

Monday, July 18, 2016

July 12, 2016 | Sparks Tribune | By 

People living in small Nevada towns, like Dyer, Lund, Duckwater, Mina, Currant and Tuscarora, have been waiting a long time for Internet to arrive. In these rural areas, broadband signal once was out of the question. Now, at least in a few towns, that has changed for good.

When work began nearly 20 years ago to bring broadband into the most remote communities in Nevada, the need was overwhelming. Less than 1 percent of the state’s rural areas had access to broadband service. Among those who did, connection speeds were laughable. Today, nearly 27,000 square miles of rural Nevada have access to broadband; about 40,000 more rural residents have access to download speeds of up to 25 Megabits per second (MgbS).

For the folks who live in small town Nevada, it makes all the difference to be able to connect to the rest of the world, whether for education, business or just for fun.

Lindsey Harmon, executive director of Connect Nevada, remembers that the big telephone companies had absolutely no interest in investing in towers and service for a few people living in mountainous, distant places. The small population size, high mountain ranges and remoteness were a major disincentive.

“Nevada is not just rural, we’re frontier,” Harmon said. “The biggest challenge for Internet connectivity has not been the last-mile connection—it’s been building the middle-mile connection between the metropolitan areas and these remote communities.”

Harmon says it’s been hard to make a compelling business case to broadband providers to service remote towns. “That’s why federal grants – like those from USDA’s broadband program, or state programs like Connect Nevada – are so important,” Harmon said. “They can help make those connections that wouldn’t otherwise occur.”

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