FCC decides future of rural broadband


FCC chairman Michael Powell has been pretty vocal about getting broadband out to the rural masses, and has been balloting quite heavily for it. Politicians have made some polite noises as well. Today rubber meets the road as FCC deliberates on the future of rural broadband. “I think there will also be some topic coverage of municipalities that are beginning to offer broadband and (as in the case of Nuvio and its partners) VoIP. Citizens are now looking to their local government to fill the void in broadband access,” says Jason Talley, president of Nuvio Corporation, a Missouri-based VoIP provider. He points out that companies like CenturyTel and Sprint are not investing the money in broadband for rural America, and contrary to their statements, will not be the driving force behind broadband access in these markets. (Well lets just forget about the Bells for a minute shall we – we all know how slow they work!)

“Many of the rural ILECs (most notably CenturyTel and Sprint) still hold themselves out to the FCC as the only providers that are willing to invest money into broadband systems in these markets. While that may have been true several years ago, we are seeing a proliferation of new technology that makes it economically feasible for new entrants to provide broadband services in rural markets,” Talley points out. “The funding mechanism for rural markets needs to be redesigned to encourage investment in new technology and new companies that are bringing the needed services to rural markets.”

Well in my travels across the country I have found the incumbents – Bells, Rural ILECs and cable providers – all dragging their feet on rural broadband and making the same argument well its not economically feasible etc. These people have been getting subsidies for decades and it is time for them to step up to the plate. “The time of the rural telecoms controlling these markets is coming to an end. They have a choice to either deploy the technology that they have been promising for the last 10 years or make room for real leadership and innovation at the rural level,” Talley points out. I completely agree.

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