Rural America Gets Wired

US has paid providers $1B to bring broadband to remote areas; progress is uneven
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2007 7:39 AM CDT
Ted Farnsworth, founder of 10-month-old, launched his site as an auction for heavy equipment. That didn't work. Farmers wanted to see and touch a machine before plunking down $100,000 or m   (KRT Photos)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Measured by President Bush's goal—to give every America access to broadband this year—it's not a success. But the effort to wire rural America has made impressive progress, the Economist reports. The US government has given more than $1 billion to internet providers in distant markets in an effort reminiscent of the New Deal's rural electrification project.

In just a few years, one company has turned Kentucky from a state with dismal internet connectivity to one with broadband access available to 98% of residents. But sloppy laws have made gains uneven and slowed success. The definition of “rural area” is so indistinct that one grantee wired a tony Houston suburb with program funds. And in some areas, federal support may be needed for decades.