Broadband Internet is no longer a luxury. Today, it is making the same transition that electricity and the telephone made a century or so ago, evolving from a premium service to a common convenience.
But since not everyone can afford their own connections, the Nevada Broadband Task Force and the nonprofit Connect Nevada have teamed up to provide broadband access to rural areas and community centers in urban areas. Recently, these groups provided a $4.7 million grant to the Las Vegas Urban League to fund 31 public computing centers throughout the Valley. Those centers provide free Internet access, and also a job-readiness program to help those seeking employment.
On Oct. 24, the partnership hosts the second Nevada Broadband Summit at the Windmill Library, promoting access, adoption and use of broadband technology throughout the state. Topics at the summit include the creation of a telemedicine network for state hospitals, broadband access for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation and increased access at public schools. One recent triumph was the extension of broadband to public computing centers in Lyon County, enabling training programs for GED preparation, English as a Second Language (ESL) and computer literacy training.
The Las Vegas Urban League and PBS will also be at the summit to promote their computing centers and online classes, including many involving job training and workforce development. In the long run, widespread Internet access could help Nevadans become better educated, get better health care and become more active in e-commerce. In other words, it could help us evolve from one of the last frontier states to a fully active participant in the digital world.