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Rural Broadband Riddle: Feedback and More to Come

The comments are rolling on the Rural Broadband story in today. I'd like to feature one comment that raises the point that the two towns featured are different in many ways -- population, education rates (one is located near an interstate highway.) Of course these factors weigh on the economic success of a community.

hatom wrote:
"Only one person gets at the point here -- that Lebanon and Rose Hill are different kinds of places. The population of Lebanon (a town) is just over 3,000 while Rose Hill (a community along a roadway) is just over 700. Further, that Lebanon appears to have made a big difference in their ability to land plan for the learning center. How Rose Hill would have accomplished that feat is a large question. It would be wise to review the considerable cost to bring BB to Rose Hill and rethink what else should have been brought as well, or been prepared for -- should a community center been set up for use as a "tech resource"? What about who would be working on behalf of the community to assist in bringing the tech jobs to Rose Hill? Does the community have the ability to do any of these things? With only 7% of residents having earned a Bachelor's degree, BB can't just show up without supporting resources. Lebanon was bound to succeed over Rose Hill, which begs the question, why even compare the two?"

Hopefully by showcasing these two places, readers will think broadly about the impact of funding for rural broadband programs. Their experiences were different and not meant to be strictly comparative.But this is an important point as is the view that many see the Internet as a core public utility -- as important as roads, plumbing and electricity.

Also noted, the stimulus plan sets aside some money for programs that will get people to pick up service and learn how to use and access the Web. The administration has said this is just the start of Obama's broadband plans. The FCC has set out to come up with a broad plan to bring high-speed Internet access to all Americans with what many expect to include training and other programs.

Many more stories to come.

By Cecilia Kang  |  April 23, 2009; 11:15 AM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
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