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Community leaders rise up against Idaho’s slow Internet connections

Ever feel like your Internet is a little sluggish?

You’re in good company.

According to a 2011 study by Pando Networks, Idaho has the slowest Internet download speed in the country. Speed is often even slower in rural areas.

On Tuesday in Idaho Falls, state Internet coordinators and local leaders joined together to discuss how the Gem State can speed things up.

“Urban America has access to the kinds of infrastructure that rural America at this point in time is literally drooling over,” said Wayne Talmadge.

Talmadge is the manager of the Salmon Valley Business Innovation Center in Lemhi County.

“You get outside city limits and you’re limited by providers and availability and access,” said Talmadge.

Talmadge said folks in Salmon may value their alone time on the range, but it doesn’t mean slow Internet is acceptable.

“It’s unacceptable for most anybody this day and age,” he said.

Dozens of representatives from rural Idaho counties showed up at the LinkIDAHO Broadband Summit in Idaho Falls on Tuesday.

“The problem we have in Idaho is we have low population densities,” said state broadband coordinator Mike Field.

Field is kind of a “Moses” character — here to lead Idahoans to an Internet promised land. But there’s a lot of desert in-between where the state is now, and where it should be.

“That’s a very expensive proposition to get broadband where it’s needed,” said Field.

Tuesday’s summit is a time for local government and community representatives to throw ideas around.

“What we talk about is trying to bring all the users of broadband together to cooperate and make this thing work for our state,” said Field.

Field said when big broadband users like hospitals get on the same page with smaller users, a better state-wide infrastructure can be developed.

“Now, it’s not just ‘podunk Salmon,'” said Talmadge.

Talmadge said faster Internet will mean a chance for his community to compete.

“Suddenly people are able to talk intelligently, be able to communicate effectively because they have the tools to do it,” he said.

For more information on LinkIDAHO, you can visit their website at

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