Monday, June 11, 2007

National Grange is concerned about wireless access in rural areas


The Washington Times has an op-ed by Bill Steel (president of National Grange) “Limiting wireless access: Proposal threatens rural areas” on page A17 of the Monday June 11, 2007 paper.

Steel writes about a recommendation to the Federal Communications Commission by the Joint Board that the USF, or Universal Service Fund, provide much less assistance than before to providing wireless services in rural and remote areas. Here is the applicable reference at the NG site on FCC testimony. Another good summary is here.

The availability of technology infrastructure in rural areas, going back to rural electricification decades ago, has always been an issue. But, besides of the value of wireless to ranchers and farmers (especially after emergency situations like floods and tornadoes) the issue can become important to retirees, who might move to rural areas for lower housing costs but might need wireless in order to build their own Internet-related businesses.

Moving to the country is not always the personal and cultural change it was in the past, even though I remember the trips to Ohio in the early 1950s and noticing the difference in living standards, using well water instead of city water, and the like.

I put this on the network neutrality blog, even though it does not directly deal with the proposed net neutrality bills, because the underlying problem is the same—equal access to telecommunications services, which Al Gore discussed in detail toward the end of his recent book “The Assault on Reason.” The presidential candidates would do well to pay attention to this issue.

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