Skip to comments.Grange Supports High Speed Internet Access for Rural America
Posted on 12/11/2001 11:59:04 AM PST by farmfriend
Grange Supports High Speed Internet Access for Rural America
(Washington, DC) December 3, 2001--One hundred years ago this year, the Grange was instrumental in winning Rural Free Delivery Mail service. That legislation opened vast new opportunities for communication and commerce for millions of Americans living on our nations farms and in rural communities. Today, the Grange wants to celebrate that victory by supporting HR 1542, the Internet Freedom and Development Act of 2001, legislation that will help bring high speed Internet access to rural America.
The Grange believes that rural Americans deserve access to the same basic public and commercial services that urban Americans enjoy. Advanced telecommunications services, such as high speed internet access is one of those basic services. However, misguided government regulation is keeping those of us in rural areas from taking full advantage of E-commerce, stated Leroy Watson, National Grange Legislative Affairs Director. H.R. 1542 would help address this problem by mandating rapid deployment of high speed internet services by local phone companies to large and small communities alike. Representatives Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and John Dingell (D-MI) co-sponsored the legislation, which is commonly called the Tauzin-Dingell Bill.
Currently, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires local telephone companies to share their infrastructure with broadband competitors such as AT&T but not visa-versa. The 1996 law was enacted to prevent local telephone companies from monopolizing local voice communications. It had nothing to do with Internet services. The result is that telephone companies are discouraged from making the investment necessary to compete in the high speed Internet market. That leaves unregulated cable/broadband companies, like AT&T, virtually without competition. These companies have ignored rural America for more lucrative urban markets. According to U.S. government data, fewer than 5 percent of Americans in towns with 10,000 or fewer residents have broadband access. Only one percent of citizens have broadband access in towns of 2,500 or less.
The National Grange supports the Tauzin-Dingell Bill because it will break down the regulatory barriers preventing local telephone companies from providing broadband Internet service to their existing rural customers. The adoption of Rural Free Delivery Mail service in 1901 set the precedent for universal service, or the idea that rural Americans were entitled to receive the same level and quality of public and commercial service that people in urban areas receive. Today, the Internet Freedom and Development Act of 2001 extends that idea one step further, to include universal access to advanced telecommunications technologies to all Americans regardless of where they live. Access to broadband Internet will be as important to rural America in the 21st century as universal mail and telephone service has been in the century just completed, Watson stated.
The National Grange is the countrys oldest rural advocacy organization. It was founded in 1867. The Grange has been instrumental in passing legislation benefiting not just farmers, but all rural Americans. It focuses on the basics of rural infrastructure such as health care, education and communications. The Grange has approximately 300,000 individual members affiliated with 3,400 local, county and state Granges throughout 37 states. # # # #
In North Carolina, former Clinton Chief of Staffer Erskine Bowles returned to NC and set up something called the "Rural Prosperity Task Force" to involve leaders from all across the State to back Clinton's assertion that there was a so-called "digital divide." (What it was is another gimmick to establish a political base)
The fact of the matter is that rural areas in North Carolina already have access to the Internet, and in many remote rural areas, DSL is being provided by the Rural Cooperatives, who have been bringing advanced technologies to rural people since the 1950's.
For more information, visit the web site of www.jsitel.com (a consulting firm to the telecommunications industry), the National Telephone Cooperative Association www.ntca.org, or www.carolinalink.org, a North Carolina coalition of rural cooperatives.
Rural people in some of the most backwoods areas of North Carolina and other states can get DSL, while Verizon customers near Washington, D.C., and other major cities are still waiting.
There is a plan to deploy Low Earth Orbit satellite systems, which will address this problem. I don't know yet if they will market directly to rural residents, however.
Also, there is equipment available which allows 128 kpbs on a 120,000 (!) foot loop. Unfortunately, it has not been widely adopted.
I am surprised you did not cite the general welfare clause.
The market is not rejecting this. The market is asking for specific deregulation in exchange they will be required to upgrade central office equipment to provide high-speed access.
H.R.1542 Sponsor: Rep Tauzin, W. J. (Billy)(introduced 4/24/2001)
And just where did you get your information?
Unfortunately, the telcos have little interest in this, I'm afraid.
In theory it sounds like a good idea. But I question 1) whether the technology exists and 2) whether the Telcos can make a buck from it. What I DON'T want to see is something like the telephone charge we all now pay to support rural telephone service. Folks in the hinterlands can limp along at 44K forever before I'd support that.