Alexandria, Va. (Jan. 20, 2003) -- A group of technology companies, Internet service providers and utility services have joined forces to create the Rural Broadband Coalition dedicated to helping deploy broadband Internet access to rural America.

Rural America is under-served by the Internet even though it accounts for nearly 25 percent of the nation's population and 75 of its land mass, the Alexandria, Va.-based national organization noted in its launch. "While the Internet is changing the world economy, large parts of rural America are losing out on jobs, economic development and civic participation because of inadequate access to the Internet," says a message on RBC's Web site.

RBC has just five members, but its founder Damian Kunko noted, "Hey, we just started up last Thursday." In addition to tech companies, ISPs and utility services, he hopes to also attract local governments as members.

Plenty of money is at hand to help the cause. RBC's Web site notes that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service has announced a $2 billion dollar grant and loan program to help fund the deployment of rural broadband.

RBC expects to help spread broadband Internet access by promoting open access, competition, and innovation; encouraging public/private investment and partnerships, and by developing new communication channels and discussion forums. For more information, visit RBC's Web site, .

-- John M. Covaleski

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