FCC To Examine Rural Broadband Needs - InformationWeek
Government // Enterprise Architecture
12:22 PM

FCC To Examine Rural Broadband Needs

A new report indicates that there will be a multiplicity of solutions ranging from cable and DSL to satellite and broadband over power lines.

Attention rural Americans: The Federal Communications Commission admits it doesn't know how much broadband access is available in your rural area, but it says it will attempt to find out.

In a report released this week by FCC acting Chairman Michael Copps, the FCC takes a stab at developing a policy to provide broadband to rural areas. The report indicates that there will be a multiplicity of solutions ranging from cable and DSL to satellite and broadband over power lines. The report makes it clear that more study is required before a strategy to deliver broadband to rural areas can be formulated.

"I view this report as a prelude to, and building block for, the national broadband plan, which will address in greater detail and on a vastly more complete record, the input of all stakeholders and the steps the nation much take to achieve its broadband goals," Copps said in a statement, adding that the FCC's study of rural broadband needs will be a "critical step in the commission's efforts to develop an effective, efficient, and achievable national broadband plan."

The FCC has been charged by Congress via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to develop the broadband plan by February 2010. Some $7.2 billion has been allocated for broadband grants, loans, and loan guarantees to be administered by the departments of Agriculture and Commerce.

Providing broadband to rural areas is particularly challenging because of the high costs associated with delivering broadband to most rural areas. One major broadband supplier -- Verizon Communications -- has been turning over its landlines in several rural states to smaller companies so it can concentrate on delivering broadband and other advanced technologies in urban areas. On the other extreme, IBM has recently begun to work to supply broadband over power lines in rural areas.

Supporting government involvement in delivering broadband to rural areas, the FCC report notes that government support will improve the reliability of important local services like law enforcement and emergency services.

"Providing broadband access to rural communities will not only enhance farmers and ranchers' ability to market goods and enhance production, it will help residents in rural communities obtain needed medical care, gain access to higher education, and benefit from resulting economic activity and job growth," Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said.

In a letter to Vilsack and additional federal officials Friday, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners urged federal agencies and officials involved in reviewing and disbursing the ARRA broadband funds to make use of the expertise of state agencies and officials.

"The states can facilitate this review process and perhaps allow [the] release of funds much sooner," according to the letter. "Indeed, without state assistance, even with the current schedule, it will be almost impossible to efficiently review the anticipated thousands of applications."

What's the state of wireless adoption in the enterprise today? Take part in our survey by June 2 and let us know. Upon completion, you'll be eligible to enter a drawing to receive one Apple 16-GB iPod Touch valued at $299.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll