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LETTER: Cutting rural wireless networks could hinder emergency response

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | 1:05 p.m. CDT; updated 1:39 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 16, 2008

For many of us, cell phones have become a necessary component of everyday life, helping us do business, stay in touch with the people who matter most to us and call for help in emergencies.

Across Missouri, firefighters like myself depend on wireless service to respond quickly to emergency situations. We rely on cell phones to assist in search and rescue operations and communicate in areas where our radio system is insecure or unavailable.

That's why a recent proposal by the Federal Communications Commission is so troubling to me — and potentially dangerous for rural Missouri.

In smaller communities, wireless carriers cannot always justify the costs of building new cell towers. However, there is a federal program called the Universal Service Fund that helps build reliable communications networks in rural areas.

Unfortunately, the FCC placed a cap on the wireless portion of the fund earlier this year and now proposes drastic cuts that could nearly halve the support we now receive in Missouri. Statewide, we could lose up to $7 million in annual support, and dozens of new cell sites would be canceled or delayed every year.

We are fast becoming a wireless nation, but there is much work to be done in Missouri to bring reliable cell phone networks to our rural areas. Cutting the fund for wireless is not a solution. Visit ConnectingRuralAmerica.org to learn more and take action. 

 


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