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Washington County project will help close the digital divide

August 24, 2012 - Art Smith
An agreement is in place to bring affordable high-speed Internet access to parts of Washington County where it has never been available.

As the Internet has matured, it has moved beyond being a media that is accessible via dial-up phone modems. For many rural residents though, this has been one of the only options available.

The modern Internet requires a high-speed connection. Videos don’t load, interactive functions fail and pages, in general, load very slowly if at all without a high-speed connection.

This has created a digital divide between those who have high-speed access and those that don’t. With high-speed access you have a wealth of educational and entertainment content available to you. Without it you don’t.

The amount of content available online for educational purposes is breathtaking, but most of it requires a high-speed connection. A person shouldn’t be denied the opportunity to view content just because the geographic location of their house.

Currently around 6,000 of Washington Country’s 28,000 households do not have access to high-speed Internet. The agreement reached between Washington County commissioners and Marietta-based Smart Networks should help close the gap.

The service will work by providing a wireless signal that can be picked up by residents, presumably allowing them to access the web on computers, tablets and other Internet enabled devices.

The transmitters for the service will be mounted on existing radio transmission towers that are used to provide law enforcement and other public safety agencies with the ability to communicate anywhere in the county.

Nationwide around 90 percent of homes have a high-speed connection available. Hopefully, the new agreement will quickly bring access to the 25 percent of Washington County that did not have it before.


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