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Proposed plan leaves rural West Virginia behind

September 17, 2011
The Inter-Mountain


I am concerned about a proposal for the Universal Service Fund under consideration by the FCC that would severely limit high-speed wireless broadband expansion in rural communities in favor of outdated landline technology.

Under the proposal, rural West Virginia could lose out on up to $70 million that would be used for new mobile wireless broadband sites and infrastructure over the next 10 years. Denying the choice of wireless broadband access at a time when people rely on mobile devices more than ever is shortsighted and could prove dangerous to our rural communities.

Every time a new wireless broadband site is built, our nation's Emergency Response Network is strengthened, allowing our emergency responders to locate victims quicker and more efficiently. The difference between a reliable wireless network and a spotty one can literally mean the difference between life and death.

Randolph County has seen the benefits of Universal Service in the past. In 2009, the federal funds were used by U.S. Cellular to build two cell sites that have since been outfitted with 3G mobile broadband - one in Beverly and one near Kerens. But the job to bring reliable wireless networks to our rural communities is not finished. In fact, if the FCC approves this proposal, a future cell site expected to be built in Montrose could be in jeopardy.

That is why I am urging everyone to visit and let Congress know that high-speed wireless broadband is wanted and needed in Randolph County as much as anywhere else. We simply cannot afford to be left behind.

Sheriff Jack Roy Jr.

Randolph County Sheriff's Department



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