Midvalley ready to discuss state of telecommunication | AspenTimes.com

Midvalley ready to discuss state of telecommunication

Aspen Times Staff Report

Midvalley business owners are invited to attend a presentation by state and local telecommunications leaders Tuesday to learn what broadband service might mean to them.

The conference, called “Telecom Means Business,” will be held at the El Jebel Firehouse on J.W. Drive from noon to 3 p.m. It will be followed by a question-and-answer session and demonstrations from 3 to 5 p.m. The cost of the lunch is $20.

Marc Holtzman, secretary of technology for the state of Colorado, will be the featured speaker.

The presentation is sponsored by the Basalt Chamber of Commerce, Intel Corporation and Aspenworks. More than 400 representatives of midvalley businesses have been invited to attend. Reservations are necessary because there is limited seating. Call the Basalt Chamber at 927-4031 or send e-mail to bchamber@rof.net.

The meeting is designed to provide a practical overview of the current choices for telecommunications services available to businesses, schools and governments in a rural area.

America’s rural counties consistently rank behind urban and suburban areas with regard to access to advanced telecommunications, according to the National Association of Counties.

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The association cited a recent study by the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce that showed 65 percent of people in urban areas of 250,000 population and above had access to cable modem service. Only 5 percent of people in areas of 10,000 population and below had access.

While telecommunications companies have little economic incentive to provide broadband technologies to rural areas, the federal government has pledged help.

President Bush has recommended $2 million in grants to provide broadband technologies and $100 million in loans. The National Association of Counties wants a re-examination of this combination by increasing the amount of grant monies and decreasing the loan monies.

Speakers at the El Jebel meeting include Jon Fox-Rubin, who will address how telecommunications affects economic progress, and Nick DeWolf, a computer genius who will discuss experiences with high-speed Internet access in the Roaring Fork Valley.

For more information about the program, call Liz Phillips at the Basalt Chamber, 927-4031.