The administrator of the U.S.D.A.’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), Jonathan Adelstein, visited a north-central Iowa farm near Rudd this week to see how a fiber-optic network installed by a local independent telecommunications company is working. OmniTel Communications used $35-million in loans from Adelstein’s agency to create the broadband network.
Adelstein watched as a farmer used a broadband internet connection to download data that he used to program the GPS on his tractor.
“This is farming at its best, this is 21st century farming, but you can’t do it without broadband, you can’t have economic development without broadband,” Adelstein said.
He compares the installation of broadband in rural areas of Iowa to the introduction of electricity in the same areas 75 years ago.
He says electricity completely transformed lives by making agriculture much more efficient. Adelstein says electricity helped the spouse of the farmer by making their life much easier, as they didn’t have to hall water.
It gave people refrigeration that made food safer and improved education. Adelstein says investments in broadband today can allow rural youth to connect to educational opportunities on-line and enrich their lives. Adelstein says the next Steve Jobs (Apple founder) could come from Rudd, but the person would never have the opportunity to grow and have that experience.
Representatives of Iowa’s independent telephone companies met with and expressed their concerns to Adelstein about the proposed National Broadband Plan. They believe regulations in the FCC plan would actually be detrimental to their efforts to keep building advanced networks and infrastructure in rural areas of the state.
They call it “The Great Disconnect”. OmniTel Telecommunications, located in Nora Springs, Iowa, serves approximately 5,500 customers with voice, internet and cable television.