Congressman holds symposium for rural internet access

Published 02/18 2014 05:01PM

Updated 02/18 2014 09:42PM

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – You probably don’t think twice about jumping on the internet for any number of reasons, but not everybody in the area has access to broadband service.

Congressman Dan Maffei hosted a forum Tuesday night about the lack of internet access in rural communities.

The symposium was for the benefit of internet proponents like Onondaga Community College Associate Professor Karl Klein.

Klein lives in rural Cortland County.

He has suffered through internet service that is both slow and expensive for years – it’s the very thing the Telecommunications Act was supposed to fix when it was passed in 1996.

Klein has access to DSL now at home, but he says that isn’t adequate anymore.

"We finally got DSL service a couple years ago, but as time has passed even that has become limiting now. In my mind its just not adequate for 21st Century New York State,” he said.

The FCC says close to 19 million people in the US still don’t even have access to broadband service, making use of online services a struggle.

“I really, really wish for all kinds of reasons, economic development, educational purposes like online learning, small businesses that can't maybe afford real estate in downtown Syracuse,” Klein said.

So is there anything on the horizon besides the traditional delivery method that would give people high speed internet access in rural Central New York?

Satellite technology is being developed – even a Google project involving balloons – but it will take time to hit the market.

Klein says for the time being, stringing cable together may be the best option for giving people broadband internet access.

“If we made it a national priority to bring fiber to every home in America I still think that would pay dividends in ways we can't anticipate right now by that virtually unlimited capacity,” Klein said.

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