"Public officials and some of their constituents argue that rural broadband is like rural electrification: It's a lifeline for small-town America that the free market will not extend. Economics are at the center of the debate, since both sides acknowledge that running broadband exclusively into remote areas won't pay for itself," the reporters write. "Cable and Internet providers argue that government-backed programs should run broadband only into unserved areas, not locations where private providers already operate. They have lobbied extensively to cut broadband initiatives from the federal budget."
In Lake County, the battle grinds on. Mediacom has charged that "county officials illegally inflated statistics, U.S. senators improperly meddled to keep the project alive," and the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture was negligent. "County officials, the senators and the USDA deny those claims, and an inspector general's investigation found them to have no merit. Yet the fight has moved from the rural shores of Lake Superior to a hearing room on Capitol Hill. It shows no signs of ending, even as Lake County begins to run fiber-optic cable." (Read more)