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Telecom coalition expresses concern for broadband plan


State Rep. Annette Sweeney, a Republican from Alden, understands that President Barack Obama and the national government have a lot to deal with.

She hopes, though, that the issue of broadband access for everyone, which Obama addressed in his State of the Union address, doesn’t get put on the back burner, especially in rural areas.

“Broadband in our rural areas is the lifeline for us to continue to keep businesses within the state of Iowa and out in the rural areas,” Sweeney said yesterday at a rally at the state Capitol held by the Iowa Independent Telecommunications Company Coalition.

A crowd of about 150 people stood in the Capitol rotunda as speakers from around the state talked about the implications of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband Plan.

Sweeney ran her own homegrown small business, a cataloging company called Practical Promotions, before being elected to the House in 2008, and said she used broadband technology to connect with her three employees, who all worked from their homes. She was not the only person at Wednesday’s event who was concerned.

Speakers from around the state addressed how their businesses relied on broadband, while audience members held up signs, one which read “National Broadband Plan creates a rural/urban digital divide.”  

The coalition, made up of Iowa Network Services, the Iowa Telecommunications Association and the Rural Iowa Independent Telephone Association, believes the FCC’s plan, though good in intention, will favor cities while neglecting small towns and rural areas.

To try to counteract that, the group has been filing comments to FCC officials to let them know about their worries. Representatives from the coalition are scheduled to meet with FCC officials in May in Washington, D.C., to voice their concerns.

“The problem is that the devil is in the details, and the details of the plan don’t accomplish the objectives,” said Dave Duncan, president of the Iowa Telecommunications Association. “We’re trying to point that out. They have the right idea to begin with.”

To read a related story in the Business Record, click here.

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