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Rural folks need e-rate

To answer Declan McCullagh's question, yes, we do really need "to spend billions of dollars a year on subsidizing rural America's landlines." As a rural citizen, I can tell you why.

In response to the June 9 Perspectives column by Declan McCullagh, "Netizens, prepare to pay more":

Declan McCullagh asks: "The idea of universal service is certainly a worthy one. But when cellular phones are so popular, do we really need to spend billions of dollars a year on subsidizing rural America's landlines?"

Yes, Mr. McCullagh, because in places like the rural mountains of North Carolina, where I live, cell phones do not always work. Because we pay three to four times the rate for high-speed access as do richer urban users for the same service. Because we don't have fiber or DSL--or even cable TV or cable modems.

But, most of all, because poor and rural libraries and schools, the largest beneficiaries of e-rate, do not use cell phones to connect the public and students to the Internet or to conduct business.

Deb Lawley
Bryson City, N.C.