AT&T acknowledges demand for high-speed Internet
Representatives from AT&T Communications acknowledged the North Shores demand for high-speed Internet at a meeting Thursday at Gar Woods in Carnelian Bay, but said federal regulations prevent disclosure of any specific expansion plans. The meeting was scheduled by Placer County to lobby AT&T to expand its broadband coverage in the North Shore, responding to a grassroots petition signed by hundreds of residents and second-home owners demanding high-speed Internet service. Neighborhoods in Carnelian Bay, Agate Bay and Dollar Point currently do not have access to broadband service, denying residents what has become for many an essential utility.The petitions are working; thats exactly what you guys need to do, said Pam King, AT&Ts regional manager.The petition drive, which ended two weeks ago with more than 600 signatures, informed officials where broadband service is needed and showed the strength of the demand. It may also provide additional leverage for expansion proposals given to corporate executives, King said. [Executives] do listen to us, and thats why we are here today, she said. Due to Federal Communications Commission regulations, AT&T representatives said they could not disclose their exact plans for expanding broadband service. However, they described the areas current coverage, explained how their systems operate and answered the questions they could.We are seriously looking at getting [high-speed Internet] to some of the areas that we have heard a lot about, King said.In addition to AT&T, Placer County officials have already met with Charter Communications and will soon meet with Cebridge Connections.We are working towards getting [Internet service expansion] addressed, said Clark Moots, director of administrative services for Placer County.Placer County also applied for a grant with the California Emerging Technology Fund, a $60 million fund whose goal is to provide affordable broadband options to every California resident and small business by 2010. The grant would assist infrastructure development in areas otherwise unlikely to see improvements.Officials are enthusiastic about the proposal, but no financial commitment has been made yet, Moots said. AT&T has existing service stations in Tahoe City, Northstar, Kings Beach and Homewood, reaching homes and businesses within a 14,000-foot radius. Expansion to other neighborhoods in the North Shore would require an estimated $800,000 in fiber-optic development, said King.The district encompassing the Tahoe Basin, Truckee, Grass Valley and Sacramento did receive development funding this year, but no exact location could be given. Company expansions for this year will be completed by November, King said.Though residents did not have their demands met, the meeting provided a forum that opened communications with company officials, said petition organizer Brett Williams, a real-estate broker in Agate Bay.
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