The key to delivering broadband to rural America lies in the next-generation of satellite technology, according to the influential National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative.
In a report to the Federal Communications Commission the NRTC said that it believes universal access to broadband services will be attainable in the near future through the deployment of WildBlue and other Ka-Band satellite services. "NRTC is convinced that next generation Ka-Band satellite services will be an essential tool in achieving universal broadband deployment," the cooperative said in its FCC comments.
NRTC told the FCC that 226 of members have signed up to become distributors of WildBlue, and additional members are still joining the WildBlue project. "Through WildBlue, NRTC and its members are looking forward to offering for the first time a truly affordable, broadband service to unserved rural households across the country," the cooperative said.
NRTC also said it supports members providing DSL and unlicensed wireless services. NRTC also said it is closely monitoring developments involving broadband over powerline technology. "Terrestrial broadband technologies, however, will not economically reach consumers residing in all areas of rural America," NRTC said.
The first satellite supporting the WildBlue service, Telesat's Anik F2 satellite, is set to launch this year.
Overall, the USA clocked up a total of more than 2.34 million new broadband subscribers in the first quarter of the current year.
Net broadband additions for the quarter were the largest ever, Leichtman Research said, bringing the number of high-speed Internet subscribers for leading U.S. cable and DSL providers to more than 26.9 million at the end of the first quarter.
DSL providers had their best quarter ever with about 1.17 million net additions - a figure that exceeded fourth quarter 2003 by 300,000 subscribers.