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Bardane officials consider networking

November 04, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

BARDANE, W.Va. - Imagine a communications network for your home or business that has Internet, telephone and television cable service all rolled into one line.

The television cable would allow consumers to customize their service, such as picking a group of sports channels, officials said.

In addition to Internet, telephone and cable, the network would offer other capabilities to consumers, such as the ability to operate security systems in a home or business, officials said.

The proposal was described to a group of local government officials during a meeting in Bardane Wednesday.

Such a system would help spur economic development in Jefferson County, said Jane Peters, executive director of the Jefferson County Development Authority.

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The high-speed Internet service offered through the system could be used to attract high-tech companies to the county, Peters said. And even more traditional companies need high-speed Internet to communicate with suppliers or home offices, Peters said.

The proposal is being made by iTown Communications, a Vienna, Va., company that designs, builds and operates broadband networks for cities and towns across the country with populations of 5,000 to 125,000.

The proposal calls for iTown, along with state and local governments, to build the network, iTown spokesman Keith Montgomery told about seven local government officials at a meeting organized by the development authority.

Those attending included Jefferson County Commissioners Jane Tabb, James G. Knode, Greg Corliss and commissioner-elect Jim Surkamp.

Once the debt is paid off for the system, it could be a revenue source for local government because other information service companies could pay government to be able to offer their service through the network, Peters said.

The network generates competition in the information service industry, which helps keep prices down for such services, said Jamie Gaucher of the West Virginia Development Office.

Gaucher called the network "revolutionary."

The project would involve running a cable to homes and businesses. Peters could not give a cost estimate for the project.

Before anything is built, the county government and local towns likely would conduct a feasibility study to determine more accurately the benefits of the network, Peters said.

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