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Rural needs less talk, more action ?FCC’s rural call completion rules are a good step ? ‘Anchor institution’ group defends federal broadband program? Pennsylvania paper looks at traffic deaths.

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Rural Needs More Than Platitudes. Encouraging words from Cabinet secretaries are nice, but rural America needs more than sweet talk to thrive, says retired Western Illinois University journalism professor Bill Knight in a column appearing in the Canton (Illinois) Daily Leader.

Knight was referring to a talk USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack gave earlier this month at the Nebraska Rural Futures conference.  “Vilsack was less forthcoming about the Farm Bill or other policy initiatives than just sharing feel-good philosophical remarks,” Knight wrote.

Federal assistance to small towns and rural businesses has dropped by half in the last 10 years, according to the Center for Rural Affairs. Rural communities don’t have the votes or the lobbying power to reverse that trend, Knight said.

Rural America needs more than cheerleading, Knight said.

 “Optimism is terrific. But realism isn’t bad, either, and it requires rural citizens to press officials to act as well as talk, from Cabinet officials to Congressmen.”

Rural Call Completion (and Rural Email Completion). CommLawBlog has an explanation of the recent Federal Communications Commission rule on rural call completion. “The new data collection and reporting requirements – adopted in the face of extensive lobbying by large telephone companies seeking exemptions that would have rendered the new rules useless – should provide the FCC with the tools to uphold the social compact between carriers and consumers,” writes Janie Troup.

Meanwhile AT&T’s vice president of federal regulatory,  Hank Hultquist, asks rhetorically (complete with a bad joke and rim shot) why there is no “rural email completion problem.” The answer, he says, is that the Internet does not contain arbitrary geographic boundaries that delineate a “local email” from a “long distance” email. Internet service providers are responsible for hooking users up the entire network, not just a local area. The phone system, on the other hand, disburses the responsibility for completing calls to various long-distance carriers or “interexchange carriers” (IXCs).

Report Unfairly Characterizes BTOP, Advocate Says. A report that criticizes the federal government’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) misstates the purpose of the program and draws the wrong conclusions, says a coalition that supports expanding broadband access to libraries, schools and other “anchor institutions.”

“The Technology Policy Institute study of BTOP mischaracterizes the purposes of the program and fails to recognize the program’s enormous benefit to community anchor institutions across the country,” writes John Windhausen, executive director of the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition. “The authors of the study describe the BTOP program as a ‘rural subsidy’ program.  In fact, the BTOP program is neither ‘rural’ nor a ‘subsidy.’

Windhausen’s response to the Technology Policy Institute study appears in Broadbandbreakfast.com.

Rural Traffic Deaths in the Poconos. The rural Poconos region has a higher traffic fatality rate than the rest of Pennsylvania, Howard Frank reports in the Pocono Record:

Several factors contribute to the deadly nature of rural roads, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A lack of public transportation in rural areas forces residents to drive more miles, increasing the risk of crashes.

The curvy nature of rural roads, combined with distracted driving, is a major factor, too.

And the NHTSA said it takes more than twice as long for emergency medical services to arrive at a crash in a rural community as compared to an urban community.

There’s also a higher incidence of ejections in rural crashes because victims weren’t wearing seat belts.

People killed in pickup trucks, rollover, alcohol-related and high-speed crashes are also more common in rural areas, the NHTSA said.

 

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