Telecommunication Transfer
by Melanie Borchers

...About the Author..
Melanie Borchers is a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Enrolled in the course titled "Mass Media and Society", Melanie was assigned the task of composing a piece dealing with society issues today. This article is a result of that assignment.
Right now is the time for someone to step up and save our small town communities in Nebraska-the ones we pride so-before all that we see is the dust from those ahead of us as they cruise down an information superhighway. That's right, while other areas of the Mid-West upgrade their telecommunication systems and keep up with today's changing society Nebraska is being left behind. The opportunities for a connection to that highway have been suppressed by telecommunication giants who run a monopoly on our small towns.
This is how it works: The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was created to promote and ensure competition in local telecommunication markets. This act stated that no state could pass any law that would prohibit any entity from engaging in the telecommunications business. So if that's the law why are we being held back you might ask? Well the state of Nebraska took the initiative to protect itself by revoking a statute that prohibited a municipality from engaging in the telecommunications, so that the statute would no longer violate the Telecommunications Act. Nebraska takes one step up the ladder. Nebraska protected the state from the government, but what did it do to improve communications for the people? (The intent for which the act was created) Well that's where the irony comes in. The state revoked a law that didn't allow for our towns to own their own telecommunication service, yet conveniently made no law that would allow it. Therefore they protected the state from the government, and a telecommunication giant, and forgot to protect the local citizens of Nebraska. Take that step back down the ladder.

Maybe Nebraska doesn't realize the benefits of competition in the telecommunications business, and what better service it can bring to the people, or possibly the state enjoys the perks from the high budgeted lobbyists pulling for the monopolies like the telecommunications giant. In either case it is the citizens of the state that are being shortchanged.

There are many reasons that we as citizens should be concerned with this set up. If the state would allow for competition and local control we as citizens would be able to grab our spot on the information superhighway. One benefit of competition is lower rates. Currently the telecommunication giant as a monopoly can have complete control of the rates and without a challenge coming from any direction they have no reason to lower them. If our local municipalities owned their own telecommunication businesses, such as they do gas and electricity, rates could be lower. Also profits from the phone service could stay in our local towns, lower taxes on city services, and go to projects that benefit our own communities. Recent installations of new communication services also bring advanced technological opportunities that our towns currently are being deprived of. The high-tech fibre optic cables that would be installed would allow for expanded local calling areas, and better connection capabilities to the Internet, straight from you town. Lower rates, community benefits, and our opportunity to jump on the information superhighway--why aren't we out fighting for it? Probably because we didn't know that we were being held back. Well now we know and now its time we do something for our communities. Nebraska started off in the right direction but stopped before they transferred from that dusty path to the asphalt pavement of today's society. Let's encourage our state to start thinking about benefitting its citizens before all we see is a cloud of dust from those passing us by.

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