Preserve rural broadband access

The telecommunications revolution is taking place right before our eyes. The proliferation and evolution of smart phones and other devices and applications that allow us to share and access information nearly instantaneously are the most visible signs. But equally important is the transformation that is taking place behind the scenes to deploy and improve the broadband network infrastructure that helps make the telecommunications revolution possible.

Taking a step backward seems unthinkable. But actions pending before the Federal Communications Commission threaten to do just that for rural America.

The stakes are high. An evolving rural broadband network creates economic prosperity. Unless the FCC protects the principle of universal service and broadband Internet access for everyone, millions of rural Americans would very likely be left behind in the ongoing telecommunications revolution, particularly here in Kansas.

Small, community-based rural broadband providers have put universal service funds to good use for the customers we serve. We've brought them affordable, cutting-edge broadband Internet service so they can access the same high-speed Internet as that enjoyed by Americans in big cities. It is essential to helping government at all levels deliver needed services to constituents, providing telemedicine services so patients can get medical care when needed, and for helping small businesses the backbone of job creation in rural America grow and thrive.

Here in Kansas, broadband access is essential to the oil production and agriculture industries that drive our state economy. Thanks to rural broadband access, farmers are able to supply the grains that feed us and our trading partners and the oil that helps make us less dependent on foreign countries for this strategic resource.

By overreaching in the name of reform, the FCC would put vital services at risk and undermine decades of successful investment in vital broadband infrastructure in rural areas. But the FCC's proposed new rule would do more than threaten higher broadband costs for rural consumers and small businesses in Kansas. The consequences to Kansas' economy would be equally as severe.

According to a recent study conducted by the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University, Kansas' rural local exchange carriers currently support 2,632 direct and indirect jobs in the state. If the FCC were to adopt its new rule, 367 Kansans would lose their jobs over the next five years. As a result, it is estimated revenues to the state would fall by more than $4 million through lost income, sales and property taxes.

Our country has long held the belief that people should not be left behind based on where they live. But what the FCC has proposed and is racing toward implementing would hurt small, innovative telecommunications companies and prevent them from applying this standard in rural communities across America.

Small telecommunications providers are dedicated to delivering and upgrading the broadband foundation to meet the challenges of the telecommunications revolution. But universal service funding is essential to this task. The FCC is moving too far and too fast. It needs to rethink and reassess in order to meet the real telecommunications needs of rural America.

CATHERINE MOYER,

Ulysses

Moyer is director of legal and regulatory affairs for Pioneer Communications based in Ulysses.

Newspaper should show compassion

Dear editor, this letter is in reference to the article "KHP Trooper found dead in rural Reno County." When stating the facts in your newspaper, there is one piece of advice your business needs. When posting articles, especially about a recent death, the family of the victim should be taken into consideration. My father not only helped your business by providing you with information on accidents, but also put in many car seats for several of your employees. I agree that everyone has a right to know how my father died. Surely they taught you in school about "strong words"? Suicide is one of the top 10 "strong words" not to be stated in articles. Sadly, since your lack of consideration for my family's feelings, the people of Garden City who read this article did not read who my father was and how he helped not only the state, but the entire country. Instead they read that one word and their focus went elsewhere while finishing the article. It is a great disrespect to my family that you felt the need to try and catch a "big story." While I do not know you or the writer personally, I am quite sure you knew or at least have heard of my father before his death. He helped many people throughout his career. Thankfully, we have other newspapers in the area that have a bit more of a heart, when a public figure loses his life. Garden City, Kansas is nowhere near a big town and the paper should not pretend it is either. Realize that if your husband/father/son/brother/etc. ends his life in the same way, there is no doubt in my mind you would wish for him to be talked about in a polite manner. It is quite sad you have no more respect for the people who live around you. Thoughts for the future? Have a heart, sometimes life is very unfair. Keep those around you close, they are the ones who will be there for you in the times of hurt and hardship. As for the death of my father, he will always be remembered as a man who helped save many lives, teach thousands of children to "buckle up" and give thousands more hope when all seems lost. Though he is no longer with us, what he accomplished in his 48 years of life will show through for years to come.

STEPHANIE KNOEFEL,

Garden City