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Program Seeks To Boost Internet Use In N.C.

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RALEIGH — North Carolina's drive to get more people and businesses to use the Internet is getting a grassroots push.


kicked off with a statewide satellite broadcast from Raleigh.

Cameras beamed the meeting to five other locations across the state. "Connecting North Carolina to a Better Future" is the theme of e-NC. Program leaders say getting families and businesses to use the 'Net with ease and confidence is critical during the economic downturn.

"We have to prepare ourselves so that we can take advantage of all of the tools that need to be brought to bear to bring North Carolina's economy back and get it moving," the chairman of the Rural Internet Access Authority, Dr. James Leutze, said.

Dial-up access is now available statewide, but the goal is high-speed access in the next few years.

"You're going to want to be connected to your schools, to your government, to health care. All that's going to be online. It's happening very quickly and rural areas have to be part of this," IBM Director of Internet Technology Dr. Michael Nelson said.

Panelists reviewed North Carolina's progress and listed the challenges ahead. Government leads the way and already counts successes such as online vehicle registration, which began a year ago.

"It has definitely exceeded our expectations. As of yesterday, we have over 296,000 renewals over the Internet for vehicle registrations since its implementation," Maggie Thomas of the North Carolina Department of Transportation said.

e-NC will award grants to several rural counties and plans to establish four telecenters around the state. They will serve as centers for training, communication and development.

Government will play a role by setting up a model and also in funding pilot projects that can show what the digital economy will make possible.

Thursday, several counties will be selected for grants that will be used for planning and promoting rural Internet use


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