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TMCNet:  County eyes an expansion of broadband

[February 14, 2013]

County eyes an expansion of broadband

Feb 14, 2013 (Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Warren County government is looking to leverage some of its assets to encourage private companies to expand broadband coverage to more residents.

Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said county officials have talked to a couple of companies that could be a part of the expansion, noting that the county wants a competitive environment when it comes to broadband service.

The county has set a goal of having broadband Internet access available to 100 percent of residents by 2014, but Buchanon said he doesn't see county government making monetary investments in that goal beyond allowing private companies to use county property -- such as land or towers -- to improve existing coverage.
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"We don't really want to be in the Internet business," he said.

A draft technology action plan from local companies ConnectKentucky, 10/20 Digital and Connected Nation outlines the access and availability of broadband throughout the county and lays out possibilities for moving toward that goal.

Warren County Fiscal Court approved a two-year memorandum of understanding with 10/20 Digital last week to market public assets in Warren County to encourage expansion of communication networks.

While there are some gaps in broadband availability in the county, 93.26 percent of Warren households have access to broadband speeds of at least 3 megabits per second, according to the action plan. Mbps is a measure of how fast data can be transmitted. For example, 3G cellular technology typically has speeds of about 3 mbps, while 4G cellular technology typically has speeds of more than 10 mbps.

The county is targeting speeds of 15 mbps in one year, 25 mbps in two years and 50 mbps in five years, according to the action plan.

Because his company is based in Bowling Green, they routinely check in with city and county government officials and wanted an opportunity to work in Warren County, said Brian Mefford, CEO of 10/20 Digital.

To move forward, it was important to understand both the availability and the use of broadband across the entire county, he said.

"Warren County, like a lot of counties, looks like something of a patchwork quilt when it comes to broadband services," Mefford said.

Compared to similar counties, Warren County ranks above average when it comes to access to broadband services. Buchanon and other county government officials have a vision that would expand that, Mefford said.

"It's clear that they want to see Warren County ranking excellent, superior," he said.

Affordable access to broadband Internet can help people do many things, from homework assignments to video conferences with family members, Mefford said.

Bringing together community stakeholders -- including schools, health care providers and business -- is an important part of the process, he said.

"There's a bit of matchmaking that goes on in this process to identify needs today and desires," Mefford said.

___ (c)2013 the Daily News (Bowling Green, Ky.) Visit the Daily News (Bowling Green, Ky.) at www.bgdailynews.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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