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Jared Kushner finally granted his security clearance. Also on our nationwide rundown: a new lawsuit seeks the release of a gay man from ICE Detention in Pennsylvania; and protecting an Arizona water source for millions near Phoenix.

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A Need for Speed - Rural MT Calls for Better Internet Access

February 15, 2010

BOZEMAN, Mont. - Thousands of Montanans living in rural areas have a 'need for speed' when it comes to the Internet. Their access is often limited to dial-up connections, and community and media organizations are calling today for federal action to bring everyone up to broadband speed.

Amalia Deloney, coordinator for the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-net), says many parts of Big Sky Country have outgrown their old dial-up modems, and don't yet have affordable high-speed options.

"They are people in communities of color, low-income communities, rural areas, that understand the importance of Internet; that it's no longer a luxury, it's a necessity."

Deloney says the FCC could help bridge the digital divide if its new National Broadband Plan extends the existing Universal Service Fund rules and resources to broadband and mobile devices. The plan will be presented to Congress next month. Montana regulators and lawmakers are also being asked to take steps to increase broadband access.

Deloney says that besides providing high-speed access, the Internet needs to stay 'open' with guaranteed network neutrality to keep companies from blocking access, disconnecting users suddenly, and slowing connection speeds.

"That's whether it's about small business development, artists being able to exchange music online ... immigrant communities who need to be able to access Skype."

Major Internet service provider Comcast, for example, has argued that it should have the power to operate its network however it sees fit, but the FCC claims it has jurisdiction over the Internet because it is a form of interstate communication.

More information about the call to action is at pitch.pe/44969

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT