Improving access to high-speed internet

FRESNO, Calif.

"If we could get it at home, that would be great, that would be wonderful," said Doris Bollinger of Fresno. She finds herself at Central Public Library in Downtown Fresno several times a week to use the internet.

"You have to go on the internet for just about everything," said Bollinger. Bollinger can't afford high-speed internet in her own home but sometimes feels limited using public computers. "You can't just stay on it forever. You have to let other people use it too," she said.

But that may soon change with a broadband project that broke ground Friday.

"Now they'll be able to go from three computers to 10 to 15 or 20 because they're going to get a pipe, usually about 10 times bigger of what they can currently afford now," said David Nelson with the Central Valley Independent Network - a group of seven local phone companies that is partnering up with a non-profit organization to construct a 1,300 mile broadband network throughout the Valley. The project will provide access to high-speed internet in rural areas and it will lower the cost of broadband service.

"It's going to supply high-speed internet at several times the factors that were available locally before, especially to educational institutions," said Nelson. Fresno State will serve as an anchor institution for the project that will begin construction next week. Part of the $66 million dollar plan is being funded by federal stimulus dollars.

"There's a direct correlation between broadband and the availability of broadband and economic growth. And we hope that long-term it will help the Valley economically," said Jim Dolgonas with the Corporation for Education Network.

The broadband network will be completed by August of next year. It will be an improvement that will give more people instant access to information found online.

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