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Summary:

As out parent company GigaOM reports, the USDA has just approved a $267 million loan to Denver, Colorado-based Open Range Communications. The money, according to the USDA press release, will go to provide broadband service to “518 communities in 17 states.” At the moment, it’s hard […]

As out parent company GigaOM reports, the USDA has just approved a $267 million loan to Denver, Colorado-based Open Range Communications. The money, according to the USDA press release, will go to provide broadband service to “518 communities in 17 states.”

At the moment, it’s hard to tell just what Open Range is up to; their own web site has turned into a simple contact page, though snooping around in the Google cache turns up a bit more. An older version of their site says they’re going to be using WiMAX technology, with network equipment on existing towers and buildings. They were projecting the cost of 1.5MBps down and 512kbps up at less than $40 per month, with unlimited national voice service available for less than $30 per month. Whether this is still the game plan is anyone’s guess.

Web workers who have tried to live and survive in rural counties know that the cost of bandwidth in this country can be a real issue. While some areas are well-served by broadband ISPs, in others you can pay hundreds of dollars per month for any connectivity better than dialup (if it can even be installed). Anything that will help alleviate this situation is a good deal for us.

In this case, though, it’s hard to tell how good the deal is. We hope Open Range will step forward with more information and concrete rollout dates soon. Until then, rural web workers in the US are still in the same position they’ve been for years: gazing enviously at their city cousins’ bandwidth and dreaming of the day when it will come to their doorsteps.

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  1. Grant D Griffiths Friday, March 28, 2008

    Oh how true. Living in rural Kansas has presented me with challenges to say the least. I am lucky, I guess to have AT&T DSL. However, we had an ice storm in December and my service for roughly 2 weeks in December was lousy at best.

  2. Wimax in the country *yeeeehawwww* They should do a whole new skid based on this, like those Comcast commercials ;)

  3. Amie Gillingham Friday, March 28, 2008

    This would certainly be a boon to a lot of the artists who use our site as part of their web working; so many of them are stuck on dial up, and uploading large jpegs can take forever or even time out depending on what kind of bottle neck they’re dealing with via their local service providers.

  4. We are in a valley 20 miles north of Colorado Springs, and have had wireless broadband for about four years. In that time we have had three providers, because they keep going out of business. Needless to say, we keep our appendages crossed that our current provider gets enough money to stay in business. I think quite fondly of the homeowner across the freeway who was willing to put up the transmitter so we have line of site access.

    Our current provider is reasonably responsive to trouble reports: in fact, he gave his cell phone number to my husband so we could call him on weekends of we needed to report a problem.

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