By Sally Voth
WINCHESTER - Before they consider bringing the latest Internet technology into their homes, rural Frederick County residents are being invited to try it out in the county's information technologies department.
On Thursday, Christopher Hild demonstrated NOVECnet's Exede satellite broadband service. He is operations director for NOVEC Energy Solutions/NOVECnet, which is based out of Manassas.
"Our focus is the rural areas," Hild said. "I think the best sales technique is to show it."
The IT department has an iPad in the lobby and a small NOVECnet satellite dish on the building to provide the Internet service.
Alisa Scott, an IT department administrative assistant, said after the demonstration that the county is inviting the public in "to take advantage of the Internet service providers who are going to be installing services in our area to kind of test drive it."
She said the department's top priority is broadband education, and as part of this campaign, it started inviting Internet service providers to demonstrate their service to residents and businesses.
Hild, a Stephens City resident, learned about the appeal, and contacted the county in September.
IT Director Walter Banks said his department invited all the small Internet service providers in the area to demonstrate what they could offer.
"We heard that they just didn't get enough word of mouth out there," he said.
Banks said others had tested out the iPad in the lobby before Thursday.
"It allowed us to really see this technology is great for online learning," he said. "It's great for emailing. It's great for most social media. Not so good for downloading movies."
While NOVECnet claims all its packages are extremely fast, plans vary in price from $49.99-$129 depending on the amount of data used.
"We want to make sure that the public knows that this is here," Banks said.
He said he knows of a student who has to come into town to complete her online homework due to lack of service at home, and of residents who move to rural parts of the county only to find out they can't connect to their technology jobs in Northern Virginia.
"Lot of people [are] trying to work from home," Banks said. "Lot of people trying to open businesses out in the rural part of the county."
He said he foresees the technology being used for law enforcement, economic development, educational and medical purposes.
Residents are encouraged to stop by the IT department at 107 N. Kent St., Winchester, to try out the iPad from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org