FCC, USDA work on rural broadband

Rural Wireless Community VISION Program site

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Officials at the Federal Communications Commission and the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) are working on a program to boost the use of broadband wireless technologies in rural areas.

The Rural Wireless Community VISION program, the latest effort of the Joint Federal Rural Wireless Outreach Initiative, will put staff from the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) on-site with RUS loan-grant officers and regional field representatives to help communities deploy wireless broadband systems.

Communities that want to participate in the program will be chosen according the impact they make on FCC and RUS officials in a two-to-five-page essay describing how they see the community benefiting from that broadband wireless connectivity.

Applications for assistance in the first quarter of 2005 are due Dec. 1.

The VISION program will serve to get the FCC and RUS experts more directly involved with communities and produce role models that other rural communities can use to help design their own wireless broadband systems, said John Muleta, WTB's chief.

Earlier, commission officials issued new guidelines for broadband-over-power-line services, which should make it easier for local utilities to offer broadband Internet connectivity to their power customers.

Broadband-over-power-line technology has also been touted as a way to get broadband Internet services to rural communities that traditional service providers have so far refused to serve because they see them as unprofitable markets.

Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.net.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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