To the Editor:
Many Iowans don't realize their access to reasonably comparable and affordable telecommunication services is being debated. If you've ever bought gas with a credit card, texted a friend or called 9-1-1, you've been able to because of laws Congress put into place mandating that you should have this access and not be required to pay high rates for it, no matter where you live across America. Also know that Independent Telecommunications Companies made these transactions possible as their infrastructure is the backbone of our state's communication.
As a member of the Independent Telecommunication Companies Coalition, I strongly believe all Iowans should have access to an affordable broadband connection. Our state's Independent Telecommunication Companies' network is integral to the delivery of advanced technologies using wireline and wireless communications services to all Iowa consumers and businesses.
However, proposed regulations in the National Broadband Plan (NBP) and other policies could change this. The FCC's National Broadband Plan would significantly cut funding mechanisms for rural communications carriers. No matter where you live in Iowa, be it urban or rural, if these funding regulations are accepted it will jeopardize all Iowans' ability to access the latest in telecommunications technology in the future, and raise our telephone charges significantly.
Many policymakers assume that rural consumers do not need the same speeds of broadband as their urban counterparts. They also assume that all communications can migrate to wireless without the support of the existing wireline network, and believe that universal service principles of comparable services at comparable prices are no longer important.
Strong Independent Telecommunication Companies are important to the vitality and health of rural Iowa, and a strong rural Iowa is important to the vitality and health of all of Iowa. Independent Telecommunication Companies are small businesses with high quality jobs, and they contribute to Iowa prosperity through property taxes, payroll taxes and income taxes. Iowa Telecommunication Companies also invest in key economic and community development initiatives in hundreds of Iowa rural communities.
Proposed regulations and rulings threaten the ability of rural telecom networks to provide affordable and advanced broadband to rural Iowans. We all need to ensure that our legislators fully understand the impact of their decisions on both rural and urban Iowans.
(signed) Elaine Quastad
River Valley Telecommunications Coop