JACKSON – Gov. Haley Barbour announced today the Mississippi State University Extension Service and Southern Rural Development Center will begin a digital literacy program to increase broadband adoption across the state. This effort will be based on the forthcoming statewide broadband plan under development by the Mississippi Broadband Connect Coalition.
The Extension Broadband Education and Adoption Team, or e-BEAT, will help assess broadband use and educate the public on the benefits of broadband Internet access for communities. The e-BEAT team includes state and regional extension service staff, representatives from the Southern Rural Development Center and MSU’s Computer Applications and Services and School of Human Sciences.
“Broadband access is a critical component to enhance economic development in rural parts of the state,” Gov. Barbour said. “The e-BEAT initiative will help communicate the importance of high-speed Internet to residents and business owners.”
The initiative will assess broadband access and use in Mississippi’s communities and host local public meetings to educate residents about the benefits of broadband access and adoption.
The education program is part of an almost $7 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s State Broadband Initiative to integrate broadband and information technology into state and local economies and collect and verify the availability, speed, and location of broadband – essentially high-speed Internet access. The education program will build upon the upcoming plan by the Mississippi Broadband Connect Coalition, which will be released later this year. The coalition is a non-profit, public-private partnership focused on producing a comprehensive statewide plan for improving digital literacy, increasing access to broadband and enabling greater adoption of broadband in the state.