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FCC Plans to Connect ND to Faster Internet Connections

March 17, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Making Internet connections speedier in North Dakota is part of the goal behind the much-anticipated National Broadband Plan, officially released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday.

While many are still combing through the 360-page outline of steps to higher-quality Internet access for all Americans, Amalia Deloney, media action grassroots network coordinator for the Center for Media Justice, says the plan's release is a victory, in and of itself.

"Broadband is no longer a luxury, it's a necessity. It affects everything from education, to employment, to health care, to government services and to democracy. It's crucial."

A report from the Communications Workers of America finds most North Dakotans access the Internet at the slowest speeds in the country, with thousands still on dial-up plans. The FCC document calls for increasing the high-speed broadband adoption rate from 65 to 90 percent nationwide, connecting vital institutions like hospitals and schools; and connecting 100 million households to affordable broadband by 2020.

The affordability factor is important for lower-income families and people in rural areas, adds Deloney.

"The average person in the United States is paying around $40 dollars – $40-plus – for home Internet connection, and most of the people that we work with have reported they can't pay anything more than $20 to $25, and even that's a stretch."

She says adding broadband service to the Universal Service Fund, which already helps make telephone service available and affordable for everyone, would be one way to lower Internet connection costs.

See the National Broadband Plan at www.fcc.gov. The Internet speed report is also online, at www.speedmatters.org.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - ND