Roundup: Sprint Announces Rural Initiative

Partnership will deliver 4G to rural areas, corporation says • Rural drug-death rates climb in Ohio • Farmers seek voice in United Nations’ proceedings • Another rural-urban difference: the cause of concussions • A Verizon tweet backfires

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FCC
The map from the Federal Communications Commission shows the funding each state has received from the Connect America Fund, which is supposed to help telecommunications companies defray the cost of reaching hard-to-serve areas. AT&T and Verizon are giving back a total of $67.5 million because they don’t think it serves their corporate interests. Click on a state to see the amount and type of funding provided.

Sprint is teaming up with a telecom cooperative to offer higher-speed wireless broadband in rural areas, reports Scott M. Fulton III in Fierce Enterprise Communications. Sprint will provide spectrum for 4G LTE service in rural markets. The cooperative, NetAmerica Alliance, will sell the service via its individual Internet provider members around the country. NetAmerica currently offers broadband service via a product called Bonfire.

The new plan is called the Small Market Alliance for Rural Transformation (SMART).

Fulton relates the new partnership to AT&T and Verizon’s decision to pull back from rural areas. The two telecommunication giants are returning Connect America funds instead of following through on their commitments to use the money to serve hard-to-reach areas, the Motley Fool reports. AT&T will give back $47.8 million and Verizon will return $19.7.

The gap in service – the bane of many rural households that have a tough time getting a good broadband connection – is seen as a market opportunity by Verizon and NetAmerica, Fulton reports.

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The prevalence of opiate drug abuse in rural Ohio combined with a lack of drug treatment centers is a deadly combination, reports the Dayton Daily News. Rural Preble County in southwest Ohio has the second highest drug-death rate in the state (second to Dayton’s Montgomery County). But Preble has far fewer resources for treating drug addiction. The obstacles to treatment in rural areas include …

… greater travel distances, a lack of public transportation and limited resources in their local areas, said Jay Meyer, a recovering addict and member of the Miami County Recovery Council, an outpatient counseling agency in Troy.

“There’s nothing out here,” Meyer said. “We have access to a handful of inpatient beds at (Nova Behavioral Health substance abuse treatment center in Dayton), but that’s not nearly enough to handle the need. Having a safe place to detox was critical in my situation, but a lot of people don’t have that.”

The story notes that several relatively small counties surrounding Dayton have drug-death rates similar to their big-city neighbor.

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Agriculture would have to be at the top of any list you made of industries affected by climate change. Despite the obvious connection, the United Nations has so far refused to include an agriculture working group in its Framework Convention on Climate Change. And, oddly enough, there’s no farmer representation on the U.N.’s Committee on Global Food Security.

The World Farmers’ Organization would like to see that change, reports Jerry Hagstrom in a National Journal article.

The WFO, founded in 2010, is an international alliance of farmers and farmer-led groups from 50 nations. The founding president, Robert Carlson, completed his term last week at the group’s convention in Buenos Aires. Carlson is former president of the North Dakota Farmers Union.

So far, the group hasn’t had much luck getting the ear of the U.N. But the organization’s unique structure – farmers and farmer groups only, not industry sectors or commodity groups – and progress on creating a unified platform on trade have attracted the attention of the World Trade Organization, Hagstrom reports.

WFO was founded in 2010 with help from the National Farmers Union; COPA-COGECA, the largest European farm and co-op organization; Ja Zenchu, the lead Japanese farm group; and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

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Rural youth who suffer concussions are more likely to get them from accidents involving motorized vehicles such as ATVs, while urban youth are more likely to get concussions from sports, a Canadian study says. Researchers say the study can help public health programs target accident prevention programs. While rural youth in Canada need to learn about ATV safety, the nation’s urban youth need some help on the ice: 40% of urban youths’ concussions were the result of hockey accidents, the researchers said

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A Verizon spokesperson’s insulting tweet about a Center for Public Integrity reporter backfired. It drove more traffic to the center’s report on the near-monopoly powers of telecommunications giants, reports CPI’s Bill Buzenberg. 

 

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