Rural Missouri - July 2011 - (Page 10)
Missouri’s rural electric cooperatives strive to bring high-speed Internet to members
urt Wood sits at his home office computer researching a new Web-based program to make his pharmacy consulting job more efficient for the patients and physicians he counsels each day. As a pharmacist and founder of Elder Care Pharmacy Consultants in New London, Curt says the broadband services he now receives through Ralls County Electric Cooperative help him streamline his job. “My job is to go into long-term care or assisted-living facilities and review them for any medicationrelated problems their residents may be having,” says the co-op member. “Then I make recommendations to that facility or the patient’s physician to either change medications or adjust dosages.” Less than a decade ago, Curt tried to do his job using dial-up Internet, which he calls “dreadful.” Then came wireless, which made things better. He’s excited Ralls County now has brought him access to broadband Internet, which is light years faster than dial-up ever dreamed of being. According to a report released in February by the U.S. Department of Commerce, only 60 percent of rural households have access to broadband Internet service. That percentage of users sounds fairly good, until you consider the other 40 percent can’t obtain a good portion of what makes Internet access so important. Many rural students can’t get to the information they need for school. Rural businesses lag behind the online stores created by their urban counterparts. Fortunately, electric cooperatives in Missouri are bridging the digital divide for rural people. Just like ‘lectricity Ralls County Electric recently completed the first phase of its broadband project, supplying access to 1,900 homes. By the time the next two phases are complete in 2012, nearly 5,000 homes and rural businesses will have access to high-
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speed Internet. Having fast, quick and reliable Internet access is vital in rural areas today, just like water and electricity. “We’re excited to bring new hope, prosperity and economic development through a new form — through light, through fiber to the home that’s going to bring wealth into this rural community again and bring the 21st century technology to rural areas,” says Dan Strode, general manager for Ralls County Electric Cooperative, while addressing a news conference in May. Just as electricity in the ’30s was viewed by President Roosevelt as something that had to be done for the quality of life, so is rural access to the Internet today. In 2009, the Obama administration placed more than $7 billion in stimulus funds toward providing broadband access to all. In January 2010, Ralls County Electric was awarded a $19 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand broadband Internet to northeast Missouri. The funding
Ralls County Electric, Sho-Me Power was part of the American Recovery in Mansfield, and United Electric and Reinvestment Act. The goal was Cooperative in Maryville were also to help the co-op install nearly 1,200 awarded stimulus grants through the miles of high-speed, fiber-optic cable American Recovery and Reinvestment to homes in rural, northeast Missouri. Act to provide broadband to rural Gov. Jay Nixon pledged $950,000 areas. to help deliver fiber-optic cable to Co-Mo Electric Cooperative in TipRalls County members for a reasonton also is in the process of proable cost. viding high-speed fiber to mem“We’re one of the bers. After an unsuccessful first federally funded New London • attempt to receive stimulus broadband projects in funding, the co-op’s board the country to go live,” said went ahead with a pilot Nixon. “We’re confident that project to see if bringbroadband access is a game ing broadband to their changer — for consumers, members would be feahealthcare professionals, sible. The study, which law enforcement, emergency includes areas south of Syracuse and responders, and educators.” the Gravois Mills/Laurie area, should Missouri is investing more than be live by the end of this year. Fed$311 million to expand broadband eral funding or not, Co-Mo Electric is access to every corner of the state. The taking the bull by the horns to bring plan is to provide broadband access to broadband to its service area. at least 95 percent of homes and businesses by the end of 2014. Enjoying the access Several other electric cooperatives Curt says one way broadband has in Missouri are in the process of bringhelped is with the reports he must file ing broadband Internet to the rural after every facility visit. Often, those homes and businesses they serve. Like reports range from 40 to 80 pages. “Before broadband, I used to print out the reports and mail them, which took time,” Curt says. “Now, I’m able to generate those reports and e-mail them, knowing they were received quickly. Before, if I did e-mail them, I had to send the files separately and the Internet was often slow and unreliable.” He says having faster, more reliable Internet through his electric cooperative is allowing him to check out secure, Web-based clinical programs he can use for his job. He can input patient information and immediately know of any potential drug interactions or dose adjustments based on the latest clinical research. “Potentially, there could be a time when I could work strictly from home over the Internet, and broadband would be a big key to that.” For more information about broadband Internet in Missouri, check out www.mobroadbandnow.com.
Curt Wood, a registered geriatric pharmacist and founder of Elder Care Pharmacy Consultants in New London, says access to broadband Internet allows him to do his job more efficiently.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2011
Rural Missouri - July 2011
Table of Contents
Raising the Great White Arabia
Now showing: rural broadband
Out of the Way Eats
The changing tide
Hearth and Home
Sting of relief
Rural Missouri - July 2011
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