|By Bob Weaver|
Federal Communications Commission's chairman Michael Powell says varying
terrain, sparse population and lack of demand has hindered the spread of
high-speed Internet service to rural America.
Federal officials continue to release statements and announce initiatives that
would bring high-speed internet service to rural America.
So far, there have been sparse results. Rural America is in the lag, much like
rural areas still lack basic infrastructure most American's have taken for
granted for a generation.
Powell believes it will be easier than the expansion of telephone service,
which required the same lines everywhere, because an array of connections
can reach the Internet.
Powell wants broad band service to reach rural America, he says.
President Bush said this spring he wants every American to have affordable
access to broad band by 2007.
Many rural areas, such as Appalachia, lag behind the rest of the country.
The commission covers parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland,
Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina,
Tennessee, Virginia and all of West Virginia.
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced last year it would
partner with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in expanding
telecommunications and high-speed Internet availability in the Appalachian
ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope announced in 2003 that the ARC would
work with the FCC in identifying distressed areas where low-income
households would qualify for the FCC's Lifeline Assistance and Link-Up
America outreach programs.
"The FCC has a long and proud commitment to the people of rural America, and
I am confident that, working together, we can do even more to speed our
region toward full access to the twenty-first-century economy," Pope said.
"This is just the first of what we hope will be many productive partnerships to
coordinate and leverage our investments with other agencies working to
The newest technology being studied is the transmission of internet service on
electric lines, which could be a method to link rural America to the net. The
technology requires the insertion of a small box in electric outlets.
Meanwhile, the theory and the promise of economic development provided by
the internet to backwoods West Virginia is still a dream.
Some government studies touted the increase of broadband in rural communities, at least a provider. That access is often limited to a small area with customers paying $40 to $50 for DSL.
Meanwhile, federal courts are ruling in favor of availability of local radio
service, since the FCC has been allowing large corporations to take over
communications in regional markets.