OHIO VALLEY — BJ Smith, external affairs director for AT&T Ohio, said at an investment launch Friday that 4G LTE service will now be available for AT&T customers in the Gallipolis and Point Pleasant areas.
The investment, Smith said, is in new infrastructure bringing faster connections for people who use smartphones, tablets or other wireless devices.
“That’s the big news,” Smith said. “4G is about ten times faster than 3G. LTE means Long Term Evolution, meaning that the network is ready for what comes next. It means that individuals and businesses have super fast networks from their mobile devices: getting information, surfing the web, downloading applications, or music or video. All of that is faster,” Smith said.
BJ added that the upgrade will also mean good news for the region’s economy.
“Of great importance to everyone here, investments in local Internet drive economic growth and job creation,” Smith noted. “The reason we’re making this investment is pretty simple: because the technology changes so rapidly, it’s increasing customer demand for mobile Internet.”
Ohio State Representative Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) talked about the dramatic changes in technology, and by extension, the world, that have taken place in the last few years since the advent of the smartphone. He said that when he took office, regional Internet coverage was one of the first issues he looked at closely.
“A lot of the Appalachian region struggles in this area,” said Rep. Smith. “The topography makes it more difficult, and the lack of population makes it less profitable for a lot of companies to do that, but it is so important for us to have that, for businesses competing on a worldwide marketplace.”
He added that it is also vitally important for future generations to be able to connect with and use high-speed Internet.
Rep. Smith mentioned the use of tablets and other Internet-based devices in classrooms, saying, “It’s pretty amazing what they can do, and what we can access.”
He said that in terms of blended learning, education methods that have online components, it’s important for students to be have access to high-speed Internet at home as well as at school.
“Otherwise the divide between rural America and those areas just grows,” Rep. Smith said, adding that this investment will enable people living in these rural areas to still compete in a global marketplace.
Kyla Carpenter, Gallia County Chamber of Commerce president, agreed.
“To say that we at the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce are thrilled about this announcement would be such an understatement,” Carpenter said. “This is exciting news for our community. We work hard, along with other entities in our community, to retain employers, to build our business base, and bring in new business and industry to our area.”
Carpenter said that this new technology is critical to an environment of economic growth.
Eric McKinney, director of marketing & communications for the University of Rio Grande, revisited the issue of technology’s place in education.
“Having that infrastructure of technology opens the doors for so many things,” McKinney said. “Whether it’s the student in education, whether it’s workforce development for businesses, this is a great thing and a really important move for this entire region.”