Technology shown at summit

Internet, satellite, TV capabilities evolve to fit residents' needs

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— Local communications companies have big plans for the role new wireless Internet, satellite and TV capabilities will play in Northwest Colorado.

Improvements in phone service could eliminate long-distance charges for homes and businesses, and improvement in wireless technology could allow people to surf the Internet using a wireless network throughout the city. Technology is available in Steamboat Springs and area communities that allows employees to check e-mail, phone messages and faxes on the same computer.

"I'm trying to get myself educated so I can answer questions better, but this stuff is so fast-paced," said Noreen Moore, business resource director for Routt County.

Moore works a lot with location-neutral businesses and was among those attending a technology workshop at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel as part of the Economic Summit 2006.

Representatives from Qwest, Northwest Data Services, Com--cast, Spring Sips and Tuck Com--munication Services were on the panel.

"Technology is becoming such an economic factor of driving business," said Spring Sips co-owner Stephanie Reineke.

In the past five years, Internet access has become available throughout the state, and the technology expectations that fueled overvalued stocks in the late 1990s are finally becoming a reality, panelists said.

"It's where people are really doing business: over the Internet," Brent Tuck of Tuck Communications said. "Data is going to be something you expect to have, no matter where you go."

Tuck helps businesses to apply the services that are offered from service providers such as Qwest and Comcast.

"They bring it to your building, and we take it from there," Tuck said.

Qwest Colorado Markets Dir--ector Abel Chavez said his company is continuing to experiment with WiMAX, a wireless Internet technology that could allow wireless access from anywhere in a community. Currently, wireless technology is limited to individual homes and businesses using a wireless router.

Qwest offers DSL Internet service in Steamboat, and Chavez said the WiMAX wireless technology is still a few years away, but it is being tested in Mead.

"WiMAX is still fairly expensive at this point, but the price point is coming down," said Qwest's chief wireless architect, Thomas Schwengler. The Federal Communications Com--mission also plays a large role in the implementation of wireless technology.

Ben Miller of Comcast said high-definition service could be expanded in the next 18 months to include ESPN2 and TNT.

-- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com

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