FCC releases rural broadband report

May 27, 2009 at 5:36 PM

WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- Improved cooperation between governments, tribes and agencies is needed to extend broadband Internet access to rural America, officials say.

In a congressionally mandated report released Wednesday, acting Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Copps said enhancing communications between rural authorities is one of the starting points for efforts to establish the high-speed Internet infrastructure vital for rural development, an FCC statement said.

Broadband "is the interstate highway of the 21st century for small towns and rural communities, the vital connection to the broader nation and, increasingly, the global economy," Copps said in the report, entitled, "Bringing Broadband to Rural America: Report on a Rural Broadband Strategy." "Our nation as a whole will prosper and benefit from a concerted effort to bring broadband to rural America."

The report identified the major barriers to expanded Internet access as technological challenges, lack of data and high network costs.

In addition to better communications among authorities, starting points to address the situation include reviewing existing federal programs to identify barriers to rural broadband deployment and coordinating broadband program terminology consistent with current laws.

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