1) Who are you, and what’s your role at your organization?
I’m Regina Becknell, Project Specialist at MACED.
2) How are you involved in broadband expansion in the region?
I am located in Paintsville, Johnson Co. We have been lucky to have Foothills Communications come to the region to provide new internet and broadband options, which is much needed. My involvement has been working with community leaders and organizations to express and encourage the expansion. In addition, I am working with Big Sandy Community and Technical College and the Chamber of Commerce to develop a business incubator in the building our office is located in. In order for that to work, we need to be able to provide broadband to the businesses for their operations and for stop over traffic.
3) Why is broadband important, and how do you think it impacts community development?
The eastern Kentucky region is a vast area with limited access to the county seats, which are often the largest communities within their county. This limited access keeps those in the county isolated to employment opportunities, as well as educational advancements. There is little that the counties can provide in this vast area while still focusing on having essentials such as sewer and water. Broadband, on the other hand, can touch everyone. It can open doors for those who cannot find work or attend school due to travel or options.
I also hope that broadband would push our existing businesses to have a presence online. An online presence would open potential sales across the world. We have a hard time convincing businesses of the benefits of being online. The complaint is either cost or understanding, since we still have many long-standing businesses operating on the same premise of “word of mouth,” which, as many are learning, has become less effective over the years.
4) What are the remaining barriers to having broadband, and how can they be addressed?
We are still on the waiting list, I suppose. To my knowledge, we are waiting to be on the list for the next location. I am sure money plays a large part too.