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Udall Intros Broadband Bill

Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) has introduced legislation to spur the rollout of broadband services to rural areas.

The bill would create tax incentives for companies that invest in broadband access in rural areas in his home state and elsewhere.

Those incentives also are intended to spur development of next-generation high-speed technology.

First, they will establish the nation's first Rural Broadband Office to coordinate all Federal Government resources as they relate to broadband.

The bill, modeled after nearly identical legislation sponsored by Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, would place coordination of rural broadband programs under the authority of the Department of Commerce rather than spread among several agencies, as it is now.

Udall said rural Americans might not receive new TV and other broadband services for years without government incentives aimed at decreasing the cost of deployment.

That may come as news to satellite company WildBlue, which says it is preparing to roll out in the next three months a satellite broadband service to the 48 contiguous states it says will deliver Web access to virtually the entire country at competitive prices (as low as $50 per month).

"Access to this technology has created a divide between haves and have-nots in our country," Udall said. "Although nearly a quarter of the nation's population lives in rural America, rural access to broadband is either nonexistent or extremely costly." Udall compared the legislation to the the creation of rural electrification programs in the 1930s, which helped bring modernity to America's most isolated communities and individuals.