Sweet land of subsidyhttp://www.economist.com/node/21541061Rural broadband access could be key to economic developmenthttp://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=255010New Research Shows Digital Divide Still Persists in the U.S.http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=17531:new-research-shows-digital-divide-still-persists-in-the-us&catid=155:nonprofit-newswire&Itemid=986Exploring the Digital Nation-Computer and Internet Use at Home [pdf]http://www.esa.doc.gov/Reports/exploring-digital-nation-computer-and-internet-use-homeConnecting Americahttp://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/connecting-americaA Brief History of the Rural Electric and Telephone Programshttp://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rd/70th/rea-history.pdfTishomingo County in Mississippi and Aroostook County in Maine share a similar problem: Both places have little or no access to reliable broadband networks. On the surface, this might seem to be a rather minor concern. However, many policymakers and politicians agree with local administrators and citizens, that increased access to broadband networks will increase rural areas ability to compete for new businesses, such as call centers. Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released details of an order that would direct $4.5 billion a year into the newly created Connect America Fund (CAF). The hope is that the work of the CAF will give 7 million rural Americans access to reliable high-speed Internet connections over the next six years. Bridging the "digital divide" may be a difficult proposition, and there are reasons to believe that it may not be the best use such funds. In 2006, the Government Accountability Office expressed concerned that spotty data might undermine the usefulness of rural-broadband subsidies. Another issue is that some of these communities may already be served by existing wireless 3G networks, which means that they are not technically "underserved".The first link will take visitors to a recent piece from The Economist about the proposed expansion of broadband service in the United States. The second link leads to an article from this Tuesday's Wisconsin Business about the importance of broadband Internet access throughout rural Wisconsin. Moving along, the third link will whisk users away to a compelling article from The Nonprofit Quarterly about the persistence of a digital divide in the United States. The fourth link will take users to an excellent report from the United States Department of Commerce about the world of broadband connectivity in the United States. The fifth link leads to a nice report from the FCC about their initiative on "Connecting America", complete with maps and an executive summary. Finally, the last link will take interested parties to a 62-page report on the history of the Rural Electric and Telephone programs in the US.


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