Is Rural Internet Worth the Cost?

This piece from <em>NPR</em> looks at the debate over plans to use more than $7 billion from the stimulus plan to expand broadband Internet access in rural areas.
February 19, 2009, 6am PST | Nate Berg
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"The stimulus package includes $7.2 billion to expand broadband Internet access into 'underserved' and rural areas. Katz listed ways that the $7.2 billion could be put to better use, including an effort to combat infant deaths. But he also spoke of rural places as environmentally hostile, energy inefficient and even weak in innovation, simply because rural people are spread out across the landscape."

"Rural advocates say high-speed access is a necessity in a global economy, and a critical part of economic revival and survival for rural places."

"There are plenty of other anecdotal examples of broadband bringing jobs and commerce to rural towns. But there aren't definitive studies or data, says Shane Greenstein, an economist at Northwestern University who specializes in telecommunications."

"The reach of broadband nationwide is also unknown. There is no comprehensive tracking of broadband service, including which neighborhoods, towns and cities have it and which don't. No federal agency or private group keeps track."

"But surveys conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicate 57 percent of the people interviewed nationwide do have broadband connections at home. But only 41 percent of the rural respondents connect at high speeds."

"Another survey indicates that broadband generally tends to go to two kinds of rural places: counties with large farms, and mountain and beachside enclaves that attract owners of second homes and tourists."

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, February 18, 2009 in NPR
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