Battles between federal government and broadband companies are breaking out in patches of rural America. In Lake County, Minn., for example, most of the region doesn't have access to high-speed Internet, but cable companies turned down government subsidies to extend their networks there.
The Star Tribune newspaper reports on this problem that's not only occurring in Minnesota, but the rest of the nation. Read the story here.
Lake County citizens want Internet service, and when Lake County applied for federal stimulus funds to build a countywide network, they received opposition from the same company that turned down the opportunity to build there.
Mediacom and the Minnesota Cable Communications Association objected to the project because it would have overlapped with small parts of the county already served by Mediacom. Both sides acknowledge that running broadband exclusively into remote areas won't pay for itself, which is why the government plan includes overlap.
"We've been ridiculously underserved in this area for years," said Andy Fisher, who owns a Lake County bed-and-breakfast and a rural cross-country skiing lodge, reported the Star Tribune. The cable companies "are working in the interest of their profits. But if they're not going to serve this area, what are we going to do?"
Tom Larsen, Mediacom's group vice president of legal and public affairs, said that Mediacom, which posted 1.4 billion in profits in 2009 and offers service in 22 states, is being pushed around by government. "Lake County wants to make this into a David and Goliath story, where Mediacom is Goliath and poor little Lake County is David," Larsen said. "The truth is we're David because we're fighting [the government]. It's just the same story repeated all over the country."
To read more, follow the story at the Star Tribune online.