Monday, December 01, 2008

Connected Nation

BusinessWeek has an article titled Bringing Broadband to Rural America. Here are some interested excerpts:

According to a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, released in July, only 38% of rural American households have access to high-speed Internet connections. That's an improvement from 15% in 2005, but it pales in comparison with 57% and 60% for city and suburb dwellers, respectively.
Comcast is constantly looking for where to expand, and looks for areas that have at least 25 homes per one-mile stretch while meeting other criteria, says company spokeswoman Terri Weldon. "We are in business to make a profit," she says.

Connected Nation, a Washington (D.C.)-based group run by Bryan Mefford, a 35-year-old Kentucky native, aims to spread the broadband gospel in small towns, while convincing companies like Comcast and AT&T of the benefits of rural investment. [paraphrased] However, herein lies the rub:

Public Knowledge, a DC-based consumer rights group specializing in technology, alleges that Connected Nation's eCommunity teams are little more than sales forces for broadband providers. "Why should taxpayers in these states be paying for market research?" asks Public Knowledge spokesman Art Brodsky. Connected Nation's board includes representatives of telecom and cable giants - VZ, Ma Bell, Comcast. Also represented are the Communications Workers of America union and groups that advocate for consumers, children, and people with disabilities.

Please note that the Duopoly is famous for Astroturf groups like "advocates" for disabilities and children. It's so much bull. BUt when you pour millions into Congress' pockets, pols will pull the wool over their own eyes.

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