Rural telecoms still a big problem in the US

Posted on May 9, 2007  /  4 Comments

In the US, despite seventy years of telecoms legislation, some things haven’t changed that much. That’s why, in some parts of West Virginia it’s still harder to get telephone service than it is to buy a jug of moonshine liquor.

The US Communications Act of 1934 legislated that all people in the United States should have access to “rapid, efficient, nationwide communications service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges.”

Then, sixty-two years later, the Telecom Act of 1996 broadened the established definition of universal service to include an affordable, national telephone service, to rural health care providers and eligible schools and libraries. But it still wasn’t enough. Read more.


  1. Paul Budde has a (free download) report on Fibre-to-the-home Developments in the Netherlands (see url below). He comments on farmers playing a role in extending fibre-to-the-farm:

    “ADSL is readily available in the area but the quality is low because of distances to the telephone exchanges, and sometimes poor quality cables. This results in slow broadband speeds.

    At the same time it is common knowledge that people on farms are enthusiastic users of new technologies. Farms are businesses and they require business grade services. Also the families of farmers depend more than city-dwellers do on access to information for study, healthcare, entertainment and so on.

    Farms are also playing an increasingly important role in ecology and tourism, both of which require good quality communications facilities.

    All of this necessitates good quality (fibre) networks, so, having established that the demand was there, the next stage of the feasibility study was the cost. Wireless was also investigated, but fibre came out on top as a far more reliable network solution.

    The idea was to see what the farmers themselves could do to overcome the prohibitively high costs of fibre to the farm.

    On Jaap’s advice, Stratix, the company conducting the study, checked whether farmers would be willing to use their own equipment (e.g. tractors) to dig the trenches for these cable from the street to their buildings. Also, farmers would know what else was underground on their property and thus the risk of damage to other infrastructure would be reduced.

    Obviously trenching is not the only problem. Somebody needs to provide the connection, do the installation etc. This is what is currently being investigated in a pilot being rolled out by Bronckhorst.”


  2. One hopes that Budde’s reports are better than Budde’s data. They are rather inaccurate, but then one cannot quibble about the quality of free stuff on the net.

  3. Netherlands along with Denmark has dislodged South Korea from the leader’s table as far as broadband penetration is concerned. Because of its size the US faces much bigger challenges in deploying FTH compared to some of the tinier countries in Europe and Asia.

    I moderated a panel on Building Digital Communities at ITU World in Hong Kong last December, where Ruud Smeulders made a presentation on Nuenen, a small rural town in southern Netherlands, where every house in the community is connected to the Internet and to each other with fiber optic. What is unique about this pilot project is that much of the “entertainment” is generated by the community itself. The paper from that session is available here.

  4. Budde’s reports are basic. What is good from that site are the short analyses found on his blog.