WASHINGTON--If long distances and sparse population bases are keeping rural areas from receiving high-speed Internet choices, then maybe a federal tax credit to broadband providers would offer the right incentive.
That's the thinking of one-third of the U.S. Senate, anyway. Senator John Rockefeller, a Democrat from the rural state of West Virginia, introduced a bill this week that would offer high-speed Internet providers a tax credit of 10 percent to 20 percent if the companies entered rural markets with broadband service. The bill is one attempt to close the so-called digital divide.
Rockefeller introduced almost the same bill last March, although that bill only offered credits of up to 15 percent and never got a hearing on Capitol Hill. This time, Rockefeller has rounded up 32 co-sponsors, 10 of them Republicans.
To qualify for a rural tax credit, a broadband provider would have to serve an area more than 10 miles from a town with a population of 25,000 or more and a county with a population density of less than 500 people per square mile. The bill defines broadband service as anything offering speeds of 10mbps (megabits per second). -- Patrick Ross, Special to ZDNet News