On The Superhighway To The Electronic Village

Computer industry pundits have long said that in the future, people will be able to hold town meetings, make appointments with their doctors, or even rent a video--all using personal computers connected via high-capacity fiber-optic cable. But for some residents of tiny Blacksburg, Va., such a network will be available by this summer.

The Blacksburg Electronic Village is a pilot program designed by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University not only to connect students living off-campus with the university's computer network but also to study the intricacies of running a "digital information superhighway." C&P Telephone, the local Baby Bell and project partner, has committed over $6.5 million in fiber-optic cable, networking equipment, and services. The setup is also available to Blacksburg's local residents, businesses, and elementary schools, creating a true community. Paul Gherman, a project director for Virginia Tech, says he's trying to sign up outside networks such as CompuServe, to give the "electronic village" global reach.

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