Obama vs. Obama over Rural Broadband Internet

Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The enormous size of the federal government’s Executive Branch can sometimes result in one hand not knowing—or working against—what the other is doing. Case in point: the Obama administration’s effort to expand broadband in rural communities.
President Barack Obama has said that increasing the availability of high-speed Internet service is a priority of his administration, and that includes offering it to more small towns and unincorporated areas across America.
The administration has backed up this talk with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, which has been providing loans to small rural broadband companies. This investment has resulted in more rural Midwesterners receiving broadband service.
Meanwhile, however, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been sending another, contrary signal on the issue of rural broadband. It wants to change the rules affecting how small providers are compensated, which could lead to higher rates and declining levels of telecom service to rural America.
Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, says the FCC regulations could be “devastating to many rural communities who rely on these companies,” because the rules would discourage broadband carriers from building out new networks and “reduce investment in maintaining and upgrading existing ones.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Rural Broadband Plan Detours to the Suburbs (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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