National digital Internet business comes to the Comstock | NevadaAppeal.com

National digital Internet business comes to the Comstock

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

On stormy days in Virginia City, Vic Sherer had to pick up his desktop wireless Internet antenna and wiggle it around until he could find a strong signal.

With the entrance of AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet into the small community last week, Sherer is sitting back and logging on with a digital subscriber line connection, which he said does not tie up the phone line or give him sluggish wireless Web surfing.

“We thought you had to be a big city to get DSL, we thought that was a California thing or a Vegas thing, we didn’t know poor little Virginia City would be going high tech,” Sherer said.

Switching from a local Internet provider to the telecommunications giant means a savings for Sherer. His Internet bill will drop $32, to $18 a month.

This also means the 900 residents of Virginia City, the county seat, will have two options for high-speed Internet service.

Phone service provider AT&T Inc. (NYSE: ATT) is closing the gap on the customers who don’t have high-speed Internet access in their coverage areas, said Vanessa Smith, spokesman for AT&T Nevada.

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DSL service is available to customers who are within a two-mile radius of its central office off Highway 341, at the south end of town.

“It will cover the majority of Virginia City,” she said.

As demand increases, remote terminals will be added in other areas, she said.

It’s taken a long time to get here, said Pat Whitten, Storey County director of administration and budget.

“I think, as a large national company looks at rolling out DSL service, they probably have to use population as part of their formula,” he said Wednesday. “I’m sure that’s why Carson City and Reno had it first.”

Whitten said he’s not switching. He prefers his wireless.

High Speed Networks LLC carried the first high-speed Internet to Virginia City about two years ago. It may seem daunting for a local company, which is just starting to go national, to suddenly start competing with the world’s largest telecommunications holding company in the country, providing high-speed Internet to more than 39 million homes and businesses in the U.S.

A top executive with High Speed Networks said he just sees AT&T as a newbie in their market with a different product to sell.

“We see them (AT&T) as entry level into the market,” said Scott Morgan, founder of the Reno-based Internet service provider. “Our services have been established for two years in Virginia City, and our client base is about half of the households.”

There are about 450 households in Virginia City and Gold Hill, according to the Storey County Commissioners’ Office.

High Speed Networks plans to expand into Virginia Highlands within the next three months, it already covers other rural surrounding areas. The wireless Internet service costs from $30-$100.

“Our mission is to deploy Internet high-speed networks into rural communities that have been ignored by the telephone company and the cable company,” Morgan said.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

VC Internet deal

The players:

High Speed Networks LLC, of Reno, has provided wireless high-speed Internet in Virginia City and Gold Hill for about two years. It also provides service to homes in Carson City, Dayton and Washoe Valley.

The company’s goal is to provide Internet service in rural areas, with the goal of spreading across the county. The network is maintained by the Reno company and ran locally by an owner/operator.

Cost: $30-$100 a month, depending on package and the number of computer hookups.

AT&T Inc.

The largest provider of telephone services and digital subscriber line Internet in the United States. DSL provides digital data transmission over the wires of a local telephone network. This is the company’s first expansion in Virginia City, where it provides phone service.

Cost: $15-$20 a month

Sources: High Speed Networks;

Wikipedia and AT&T