If I lived here, I couldn't VoIP ya

That's Blue Mountain, in Eastern Washington state. Proud to say I took the photo.


That's Blue Mountain, in Eastern Washington state. Proud to say I took the photo.

But if I lived in the farmhouse just over the ridge, I wouldn't been able to call you via VoIP. That's because broadband access is just about absolutely necessary for VoIP, and broadband access is relatively scarce out in rural America.

Steven Levy of Newsweek explored the subject in expert detail this week.

"The sticks are getting shafted when it comes to broadband," Steven writes in his excellent Will Sticks Lick Broadband Fix? piece. He draws reference to a recently released Pew Internet and American Life Project study that says rural users are only half as likely as city dwellers to use broadband Internet service, "and that two thirds of rural dial-up users either don't know of their options to get the fast stuff or have checked it out and learned for sure they can't get it."

Referring to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, Steven could just as easily be talking about that piece of heaven looking at ya from the top of this post.

"There are just too many areas like mine, where cable companies never bothered to lay wire and telcos haven't made the 'final mile' investment to extend broadband to their phone customers."

Steven does reference "fixed wireless" projects now underway, but argues  for a national policy that revs up universal broadband access. He notes that U.S. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) and Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) are sponsoring a bill that would direct up to $500 million from the telephone Universal Service Fund to build broadband. But in light of what Steven regards as a "pork-ridden" $286 billion highway bill, he calls the Dorgan-Smith bill's target appropriation level "comically modest."

Can't say I disagree.