SVEDC exploring options for high speed internet

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Courtesy photo Devices like these could be installed on power lines across the U.S. if the AT&T AirGig program takes off. These devices broadcast an ultra high internet signal that runs through power lines.

The Silver Valley Economic Development Corporation (SVEDC) is back in the fight to get Shoshone County better, faster internet.

Over the past few years the SVEDC had thought they had found the Silver Valley’s answer in the form of Syringa Networks, but missing conduit along I-90 halted that progress somewhere near Cataldo.

New SVEDC director Colleen Rosson has been in communication with multiple companies in hopes of ensuring that our technological infrastructure can grow to what is needed for the area.

Earlier this year, it was discovered that Frontier Communications, one of the Silver Valley’s two main internet providers, in fact has the bandwidth and availability needed for many of the local businesses and could support the needs of a major business, should it move to the area.

“The main discussion is that Frontier is here and the speed is there if you know who to contact,” Rosson said.

During an SVEDC meeting in November, Rosson discussed some of the other options Shoshone County may have.

“We talked about Rural Broadband Access loans and loan guarantees among other grant and loan opportunities available now,” Rosson said. “We will get together and put together a plan on feasibility and then action on going after funding to bolster the system and encourage competition. There are new, emerging technologies that have a relatively close deployment and would be ideal for our geography.”

The Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program (Farm Bill Broadband Program) furnishes loans and loan guarantees to provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide service at the broadband lending speed in eligible rural areas.

Eligible entities may be either a nonprofit or for-profit organization intending to provide services in an eligible rural area, and must take one of the following forms: Corporation, limited liability company (LLC), Cooperative or mutual organization, tribe or tribal organization, state or local government, including any agency, subdivision or instrumentality thereof.

The emerging technologies Rosson mentioned are exciting, but still in their infancy, the SpaceX Starlink satellites and AT&T’s AirGig.

In November, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved SpaceX’s request to launch a constellation of 7,518 satellites into orbit.

Called Starlink, SpaceX’s ambitious project is meant to provide constant, global internet coverage from orbit.

The spacecraft in the constellation are meant to do a synchronized dance above the Earth, allowing for every part of the Earth’s surface to have a direct line of sight of at least one satellite at all times.

The project is expected to cost $10 billion to develop, and SpaceX aims to have the constellation operational by the mid-2020s.

The AirGig technology from AT&T is a slightly older concept, but still very new.

It would have a high strength internet network that ran through the power lines and would be as simple to install as clamping down the necessary equipment on those power lines.

These pieces of equipment would broadcast a strong wireless internet signal for people to use without having to construct new poles, towers or bury new lines.

The AirGig has been in successful field testing for more than a year and in September, AT&T announced they were in talks with many technology suppliers about mass producing commercial grade AirGig equipment.

At this time, these are still in the research and planning phase, but Rosson and the SVEDC will be watching very closely.

For more information or to contact Rosson at the Silver Valley Economic Development Corporation call 208-752-5511.

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