The Extension Broadband Education and Adoption Team (e-BEAT) was created as part of a grant from the governor's office to help Mississippi participate in a digital economy by using broadband and information technology to further community and economic development opportunities. This project is made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
The Mississippi Broadband Connect Coalition was created to develop a comprehensive statewide plan for increasing the availability and adoption of broadband Internet. The Extension Broadband Education Initiative and e-BEAT are an integral part of the Coalition's program by turning that plan into local solutions that will increase use of broadband among Mississippians.
In many communities, having broadband access is difficult if not impossible. The following is an excerpt from a speech given to the Rural Assembly in June 2011 by the Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.
"Today, over 26 million Americans are still without broadband access, and roughly 73 percent of those individuals are rural residents. They're in your communities. Moreover, one-third of Americans don't subscribe to broadband even when they do have access to it, and in rural America that gap is even wider."
The Extension Broadband Education and Adoption Team (e-BEAT) consists of state and regional Extension personnel. There are six regional broadband coordinators stationed across the state at county Extension offices and Research and Extension Centers. These dedicated individuals will assemble teams of civic, business, elected leaders, and others in each of their counties to work together toward improving the access to and use of broadband in their areas. Each community is different, so they will tailor solutions from the state's broadband plan in a way that best fits the needs of the local population.
• Assess broadband access and use
• Create and facilitate local/regional planning teams
• Host local/regional roundtable meetings
• Deliver education and provide planning assistance to target groups
• Develop and implement an evaluation plan to measure success
Assistance is available through workshops and training in partnership with local anchor institutions regarding cyber security, ecommerce strategies for small businesses, digital literacy, and other Internet related topics.
Regional coordinators are looking for passionate volunteers committed to improving the quality of life in their area. Greater broadband use can lead to better educational opportunities, a more skilled workforce, better quality of life, and improved access to health care and public services. The regional coordinators rely on partners in every county and individuals in every community who are willing to develop local solutions and learn the skills needed to get their neighbors online. To volunteer as an e-BEAT local partner, please contact your regional coordinator.