Red Oak

Red Oak city water tower

(Red Oak) -- Education and feedback are the objectives of a special meeting in Red Oak later this week concerning high speed internet services.

Montgomery County Development Corporation and the 623 Broadband Task Force host a public meeting Thursday evening at 7 at the Wilson Performing Arts Center. Joey Norris chairs the task force. Norris tells KMA News the meeting is part of a community broadband pre-feasibility study launched earlier this summer, with the goal of improving fiber optic services in Red Oak and the western portion of Montgomery County.

"We've been working in Montgomery County to expand our broadband access," said Norris. "So, specifically, that's to get all of our homes and businesses in the county hooked up to fiber optic internet. So, this Thursday, we'll be having a consultant--Smartsource Counsulting out of Des Moines--coming down to help us educate folks in the Red Oak 623 exchange area--which is our phone area--what fiber optics is, why it's good for homes and businesses, how can you help us get this accomplished, and also get feedback from folks."

Norris says one of the study's purposes is to educate citizens on the importance of high speed internet in terms of quality of life.

"Most people have Netflix or Hulu, or other online streaming service," said Norris. "Interruptions are just annoying, right? So, anything you do online, faster, more reliable internet will help you. No more waiting for videos to download, and access to Facebook and social media more readily. That's the low-hanging fruit. It's just going to make people happier to use the internet, so you have the same amenities in that capacity than you do in a big city."

Norris adds improved broadband services are necessary for supporting businesses and industries in the community.

"There are new industries being formed that rely entirely on internet access," he said. "You have fast internet in Red Oak, but it's unreliable, meaning it goes out once a week for an hour or so. That's just unacceptable, not only in high speed new technology areas, where you're constantly uploading and downloading incredible amounts of information, just to be able to do your job, it's also being able to communicate--solicit new business, communicate with online platforms for selling and distribution--things like that."

More information on the fiber optic pre-feasibility study is available from the task force's website, ourbroadbandfuture.com, as well as the organization's Facebook page.