Community Petition For High Speed Access Gets AT&T's Attention

Fed up with slow dial-up speeds, residents along the North Shore of Lake Tahoe have taken matters into their own hands to get better access to high speed internet.  Citizens in Carnelian Bay area began circulating a petition last month aimed at convincing telecom companies that there is sufficient demand to justify building out high speed internet infrastructure in the Lake Tahoe region. 

A few weeks and six hundred petition signatures later, AT&T is taking notice.  Just last week the company met with leaders and residents in the area to discuss the current state of internet access in the region and plans for future broadband deployment.

“The petitions are working; that’s exactly what you guys need to do,” said Pam King, AT&T’s regional manager.

The lack of high speed internet access frustrated both business owners and residents in the area, and also began to take a toll on real estate values.  Local real estate agent and petition organizer Brett Williams of Agate Bay Realty had this to say:

“It’s starting to affect the values of the properties of the areas that are not serviced by high-speed,” said Williams. “If you are trying to fill a rental property, two that are similar, one with high-speed and one without, its difficult to lease the second property. You have high-tech people who are looking to lease a property for four to five months for a ski lease, and can’t telecommute.”

While AT&T could not disclose specific plans to expand high speed internet access in the area, they did say that they were seriously considering expanding coverage into areas currently covered only by dial-up.  Local community leaders and elected officials are planning to meet with representatives from other internet service providers in the coming weeks to discuss their plans for deployment in the area as well.

Community members in places like Lake Tahoe are making a difference by coming together to demonste the demand for high-speed internet access.  But not every community has the ability to do this on their own.  That is why data collection programs like those under consideration in the Broadband Census of America Act are so critical.  Coupled with coordinated community team-building efforts like those undertaken by ConnectKentucky, this data can help many more communities get attention and get connected--just like in Lake Tahoe.

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