Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Phone, cable companies want broadband stimulus money to extend networks to remote areas

Big telephone companies and some cable-TV operators say President Obama's goal "of blanketing the country with high-speed Internet can't be accomplished without significant investments in so-called 'backhaul' networks that stretch to hard-to-reach communities," reports Fawn Johnson of Dow Jones Newswires. "There is some debate, however, about whether those networks should be financed with government money or private sector investments. Extending cable to rural communities can be prohibitively expensive for Internet carriers, which is why those areas tend to have few connectivity options."

A senior Obama adviser said today that backhaul networks, often defined as the connections between an antenna and a switching facility, should be eligible for the $7.2 million in stimulus money for rural broadband. "Investments in backhaul networks, particularly in rural communities, will likely be particularly helpful," Susan Crawford, a member of the National Economic Council and a special assistant to the president, said at a briefing sponsored by the Media Access Project. (Read more) However, it should be noted that there are other ways to get affordable broadband to homes in remote areas: via power lines or, in relatively flat areas, wireless networks.

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