BEATTY — Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval joined leaders of Valley Communications Association, Nye County School District and others packed the gymnasium at Beatty High School to announce the town will be the first all-fiber community in the Silver State.
“What matters to me is that regardless if you live in Beatty or in Las Vegas or in Reno or in all those other communities, that you have that same access to information and opportunity that every child in the state has,” Sandoval said during his keynote address at Beatty High School at 1 Hornet Ave. on Sept. 15, 2017.
Dozens of kids, state and local leaders and others are learning how getting information faster will help Beatty and other rural areas in the state. Beatty is on course to have an option for all of its citizens by the end of 2017.
During his address, Sandoval pointed to health care, education and small business as areas that could see improvement in Beatty.
Nye County School District Superintendent Dale Norton, along with Thomas Husted, CEO of Valley Communications Association, also spoke about what the advancement means for the local region.
Valley Communications Association, a subsidiary of Valley Electric Association, was responsible for laying the fiber-optic lines.
Health care options
The health-care options for Beatty residents could be improved through telemedicine, which is defined as the practice of medicine by way of two-way voice and visual communications.
“This will allow all of you out here to have access to telehealth and have that connectivity to medical providers that you didn’t have before, so that you don’t have to take that big long drive to get the health care that you may need,” Sandoval said during his address.
This type of health-care communication has been growing in the state, through this and other initiatives, at both the medical facility and the individual level.
Insurers such as Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Nevada launched telemedicine services to its insured just a few years ago. Anthem’s service, known as LiveHealth Online, is also available to anyone with an internet connection in Nevada.
Users pay a fee, under $50, and are connected to a doctor for nonemergency issues such as prescription refills and other medical ailments, if they aren’t insured through Anthem.
Medical facilities, such as Desert View Hospital, use fiber-optic connections, made possible through partnerships with Switch Communications and the Nevada Hospital Association.
The facility uses the technology to communicate with specialists in surrounding areas such as Las Vegas, possibly saving time to transport patients because information can be shared quickly, according to Susan Davila, CEO at Desert View Hospital.
Benefits for small business
Small business entities in Beatty will also benefit.
“Economic development opportunities will avail themselves because businesses not only want to, businesses need to, businesses must have high-speed communications in order to survive today,” Husted said.
Not only is high-speed internet a positive for local business growth and local patrons, but it can allow businesses to expand beyond local borders.
“From just going to a local business base, now, you’ll go to a global business base,” Sandoval said.
Impact on education
Education could be positively impacted.
“Any further education that kids can get outside the classroom, or in the classroom for that matter, will help,” Norton said during his address at the event.
One thing that many Beatty students will be glad for is uninterrupted testing.
The school is already hooked up to the fiber-optic connections that the rest of Beatty citizens will have the option of purchasing by the end of 2017, according to a news release from Valley Communications Association.
Students will also have access to information on the internet that might not have been previously available.
Pahrump next in line
The installation of a fiber-optic connection in the Beatty area started some time back with a partnership with Switch Communications, a large-scale data storage company, and Churchill County Communications in Fallon, along with Valley.
In 2012, Switch began construction on more than 450 miles of high-speed communication lines from Las Vegas to Reno, which mostly parallels U.S. Highway 95.
That collaboration is allowing for the fiber-optic communications growth in places such as Beatty, Amargosa Valley, Yerington, Hawthorne and other rural places in the state.
According to Ken Johnson, executive vice president of broadband services at Valley Electric, Pahrump is next on the radar for fiber-optic lines.
Johnson said the association also wants to expand the system to its current service area, which, on top of Beatty and Pahrump, includes Amargosa Valley, Sandy Valley and Fish Lake Valley.
Valley plans to spend roughly $100 million for its fiber build-out in its service area, which includes Beatty.
Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at email@example.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes