New Project

Bozeman, where I live, submitted its application for the Google Fiber for Communities project in the hopes of using the gigabit fiber to bring more high-tech businesses to the city.

Already, the city is rife with high-tech industry, the most famous company being Right Now Technologies. We also have TechRanch and a number of Montana State University-fueled startup incubators and spinoffs. (The university has done quite well for itself in the area of tech transfer.)

Now the city wants to bring more high-tech businesses to the area in hopes of increasing tax revenue and stopping the so-called “brain drain” that sees many of the state’s college graduates leave Montana for higher paying jobs elsewhere. It doesn’t hurt that there’s this sometimes-referred-to notion that Bozeman is the next Silicon Valley.

While all this boom hype is going on, there’s another side to the high-tech world. We live in a rural place, one with mountains and other harsh terrain that makes it hard for people to get access to broadband Internet access. Sure, researchers like Richard Wolff at MSU, who I profiled for the upcoming Mountains & Minds magazine, are looking into ways to use advanced wireless technologies to get broadband across that “last mile” and to rural homes, many people in the state remain on dial-up or without Internet access of any kind.

Amid all the excitement over high-speed and high-tech, what about the people who don’t have access?

I hope to answer that question over the next few months as I research and report on what I hope will turn into a series for the Chronicle. We’ll have to see how it goes. Maybe I’m imaging things. Maybe there is no problem at all, and everything is hunky-dory.

In the meantime, I’m blogging about what I find over at Broadband in Montana. Read up and please comment. I’d love to be pointed to resources I don’t know about.