New effort targets better broadband access in state

Oct 21, 2012 The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- It wasn't that long ago that broadband Internet access was considered a luxury. But for many it's now considered a necessity.

"We're on the verge of a broadband explosion, and broadband is going to be the next necessary utility in people's homes and businesses," said Troy Babbitt, enterprise broadband coordinator for the state of Wyoming.

Babbitt is working on a statewide initiative to help literally lay the groundwork for that to happen.

Through the federally funded LinkWyoming initiative, a map was created to show broadband, or high-speed Internet, coverage throughout the state.

Strategies are now being identified for broadband expansion and adoption.

Among the goals are to determine why some areas are not served by broadband and facilitate extension of access to areas that are underserved.

The initiative itself won't provide broadband access to anyone, but it will help service providers fill in the gaps.

The High Plains Economic Development District is seeking a $50,000 grant from the Wyoming Business Council to analyze how to better provide broadband access to underserved portions of southeast Wyoming, specifically in Platte and Goshen counties.

It will focus on the fiber-optic network and ways to make it more reliable and to create redundancy, so if a line is cut it won't shut down service.

An investment in broadband connectivity is an investment in economic development, said Anja Bendel, director of business development for Cheyenne LEADS, the economic development corporation for Cheyenne and Laramie County, which encouraged the county to support the grant proposal.

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