Rural = Stupid?

6:00 PM -- There's nothing I like more than when PR folks attempt to entertain me with a pitch.

They usually succeed, but not quite in the way they're probably imagining. Witness this missive from M/C/C in Dallas:

It's true. People have some misconceptions about the services telcos provide in small and rural communities. The top five misconceptions are as follows:

1. In rural and small communities, the phone system consists of tin cans connected by twine.
2. When residents of rural communities talk about "broadband," they mean 150 lb. test fishing line.
3. For a rural community, the copper vs. fiber debate means paying for something with pennies or bartering a quilt or knitted pair of socks.
4. In a small town, there's no need for CallerID because you can just look out your window and see who is yelling at you.
5. In rural communities, people have no use for new-fangled doodads like "them tellyphones all the city folk are using."

In all seriousness, telecom providers that serve rural and small communities sometimes offer services that are on par or exceed what's available to customers in much larger communities. If you'd like more insight on the advanced services used by some small and rural communities, I'd love to schedule a briefing between you and an expert from TelStrat. You may also be interested in a contributed article on the subject. If so, let me know.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Excellent. I'm sure the folks at TelStrat International are glad you wrote. Maybe they're picking up the tellyphone to call you right now.

— Phil Harvey, Entertainment PR Editor, Light Reading

Michael Harris 12/5/2012 | 3:52:27 AM
re: Rural = Stupid? Thanks Philter. Nothing like a little Hee-Haw humor to start the day. Can't believe "Isn't a router for wood working?" wasn't in the top five. Maybe for inspiration the PR team wrote this over breakfast at Cracker Barrel?
"Ill" Duce 12/5/2012 | 3:52:26 AM
re: Rural = Stupid? It reminds me of Cletus the Slackjawed Yokel.
"some folks'll never lose a toe and then agin some folk'll like Cletus the Slackjawed Yokel."

geof hollingsworth 12/5/2012 | 3:52:24 AM
re: Rural = Stupid? I thought is was "some folks will never eat a skunk, and then agin some folks'll, like Cletus the Slackjawed Yokel."
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:52:21 AM
re: Rural = Stupid? From a RUS broadband loan perspective rural is defined as a populaton of less than 20,000. One can go to http://www.census.gov and get the population to see if a community qualifies for a federally backed broadband loan. According to this article, written in 2004, even wealthy master planned communities with $1M dollar houses qualify.


Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman praised the loans as part of President Bush's efforts to bring broadband "to every home in America by the year 2007."

According to the USDA official, the agency is having a hard time finding people to take the $2.2 billion in funding available this year.
But it turned out that almost a quarter of the money was going to a company that serves high-end, master-planned suburbs just outside of Houston, with homes costing up to $1 million--hardly the type of community that needs subsidized Net infrastructure. Particularly when there are plenty of people in places like Hell, Mich. that still have to make a long-distance call to get on the Internet at all.

Some (most?) incumbents perceive this criteria for "rural" as a poor one and in turn are suing the USDA for subsidizing competition.


USDA sued over broadband loan program
By Marguerite Reardon, CNET News.com
Published on ZDNet News: May 31, 2006, 4:43 PM PT

A rural cable provider filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, insisting it reform a low-interest loan program created by Congress to bring high-speed Internet access to rural areas.

Also, an excerpt from an audit report by the USDA's Office of Inspector General says:

Furthermore, we question whether the Government should be providing loans to competing rural providers when many small communities might be hard pressed to support even a single company. In these circumstances, RUS may be setting its own loans up to fail by encouraging competitive service; it may also be creating an uneven playing field for preexisting providers operating without Government assistance.


Hmmm, the FCC has been claiming competition is goodyet the USDA says that competition in so-called "rural" broadband may be setting things up for default. Which is it?

Finally, while quibbling over definitions, I believe the FCC claiming broadband as 200Kbs or greater is equally poor. Maybe the feds can fix that one day. I read that Japan delivers broadband, as defined by 100Mbs symmetric, for $38-50 per month.

This excerpt from John Borland's article sums it up in my opinion.

Bush's plan for broadband isn't working.

According to the USDA official, the agency is having a hard time finding people to take the $2.2 billion in funding available this year. That's why a bunch of ritzy suburban developments are getting money that was supposed to be earmarked for genuinely rural areas--they asked, and nobody else was standing ahead of them in line.

If that's true, it's time for some serious rethinking of federal broadband policy. The rural broadband program has been among the few active steps U.S. policymakers have taken to address a growing digital divide, amid concerns that other countries, such as Canada, South Korea and Japan, are far ahead in broadband penetration and average speeds. Indeed, recent news that many Japanese consumers can now get 100mbps connections for just $38 has made our cable modems look like tin cans and string.
Lite Rock 12/5/2012 | 3:52:17 AM
re: Rural = Stupid? For a PR firm that has a tag line of "Living the Unexpected" they certainly are living up to their promises.

I would not have expected that kind of PR for TelStrat. They deserve better.

Michael, Let's add "Breakfast at Denny's or Dairy Queen" to the list, eh.

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