State Funding Urged for Nebraska Telecom Services

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A consultant is warning that rural Nebraska could lose high-quality broadband service unless the state provides funding to offset a loss in federal subsidies.  Michael Balhoff said Tuesday that small carriers are at risk because of new regulations that will reduce the federal payments for cable, fiber optic and DSL connections in remote areas.  Rural areas are more expensive for carriers because the service has to cover greater distances to reach relatively few paying customers. Balhoff told the Legislature's Transportation and Telecommunications Committee that without the funding, some remote areas would turn into an "economic wasteland" with little or more expensive service.  The hearing was called to study the role of Nebraska's universal service fund. Money from the fund comes from a state fee tacked onto consumers' telephone bills.