Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tahoe fire could end persistent broadband black hole

If the fire lines continue to hold, there could be a silver lining for a Lake Tahoe area neighborhood hard hit by this week's devastating Angora Fire.

The neighborhood in the path of the wildfire has been one of El Dorado County's most puzzling and persistent broadband black holes. Despite a reasonable density of residences, there's no broadband from AT&T and the local cable franchisee, Charter Communications, reportedly pulled its equipment out of the area some months back.

Last year, resident Patti Handal (whose home has apparently been spared thus far) submitted a petition signed by 600 of her neighbors to AT&T demanding it stop stalling and roll out wireline-based broadband services. Patti also enlisted El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago to argue the residents' case to AT&T officials.

Now there's a glimmer of hope that out of the ashes the long suffering neighborhood might finally come in from the dark side of the digital divide and go broadband.

An AT&T official was quoted in Tahoe Daily Tribune as saying new fiber-optic cable will be laid today in damaged areas. I hope it brings wireline broadband to beleaguered residents whose homes survive the inferno and something to look forward to for all residents, including those less fortunate who opt to rebuild.

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