FCC Commissioner McDowell strongly encourages rural telcos to adopt wireless broadband: An increasing number of reports show that the universal service fund (USF) that derives its fees from urbanized telephone use to subsidize rural telephony is off the tracks, and likely to change significantly in structure. McDowell said to the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association's annual meeting that free markets failed for rural American telephony, and the USF was once an effective mechanism for fixing what was broken. With USF drawing from fewer people--VoIP providers get some exemptions, for instance--rural providers need to adapt.
He urged the providers to participate in the upcoming 700 MHz auction. It's very sweet spectrum--it penetrates well and goes long distances--and licenses in rural areas are likely to be available at reasonable prices, but the infrastructure to build out won't be cheap.