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No High-Speed Internet a Problem for North State Schools, Businesses

We use technology and internet every day, but those who live farther out from the city may not always have easy access to it.

Posted: Apr 18, 2018 5:25 PM
Updated: Apr 19, 2018 9:39 AM

Berry Creek, Calif. -- We use technology and internet every day, but those who live farther out from the city may not always have easy access to it.

That's the case with Berry Creek Elementary School, which doesn't have high-speed internet.

Patsy Oxford is the principal of the school and says they have internet, it's just super slow.

They have computers in every classroom, but they can only use so many at a time to have them all keep operating.

She says they do their best to bring the kids to a higher academic level and close the achievement gap, but they cannot do that because of the lack of connectivity.

Here's the problem. First of all, they have to grade most real and practice assignments by hand, so there is never any immediate feedback.

“We do a reading program with tape recorders now. We could do it on the internet, and our kids could be learning faster, more comprehensive programs,” she said.

She says they have iPads in every class and they use apps because they don't require internet, but they have to go to Oroville to load the apps on there.

“If we did it here, it would take two days to load one iPad.”

Internet companies have told her high speed internet would make things about 1,000 times faster.

There is high speed internet up to the Bidwell Bar Bridge, but they need permission from several people to run lines through their properties, and they have not been able to get that.

“It's very frustrating, because some of the people don't even live here.”

She says rural communities come second or third because there is a lot more payoff for companies to bring internet to big cities rather than small, rural towns.

“So it's a money issue, it's a logistics issue, but truly it's not fair to our kids.”

Oroville, Calif. -- This is also a problem in Oroville as well. Liberty Tax Service relies on internet for just about everything.

The problem is, not only is it slow, but sometimes they completely lose connection and that can last anywhere from minutes to hours, meaning the customer has to wait until it comes back.

Next year, everything is going to be cloud based, so if they lose connection they won't be able to do anything.

“We can't do tax returns, we can't answer questions, we can't check what the IRS is doing, we're completely dead in the water,” said owner Elizabeth Adams.

She said right now they have AT&T on her side of Oro Dam Blvd., and Comcast on the other side. She says Comcast is much faster, but, unfortunately, it's not an option because those lines don't cross the street.

AT&T says they are working on solutions and have invested more than $7 billion into wired and wireless networks in Oroville and Chico between 2014 and 2016.

Oroville Chamber of Commerce members agree that this is a big problem.
Interim Executive Director Wilma Compton says businesses regularly face problems with unreliable and inadequate speeds, and any improvements have to come from the owners themselves.

Earlier this year, President Trump signed two executive orders pushing for more high-speed internet in rural areas.



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