TVA Rural Studies
Rural Telecommunications Workshop
OTA Followup Conference
October 28, 1996

In 1989 the Office of Technology Assessment released a study, Rural America at the Crossroads, of the effects that changes in telecommunications technology could have on rural areas.

In the intervening seven years, some of the predicted changes in telecommunications and rural communities occurred, along with many that weren't predicted, such as the spread of the Internet.

On October 28, 1996, TVA Rural Studies and the National Telephone Cooperative Association's Foundation for Rural Service hosted a one-day seminar to reexamine the issues raised in the original OTA study in light of the new telecommunications environment.

We wanted to start the assessment from the original six questions addressed by OTA. Where significant changes since 1990 raised new issues, we recognized these changes and examined their effects. For that reason we commissioned three background papers that served as a common basis for reviewing some of these changes. They and the original report set the context for the conference.

Prior to the conference, three background papers were commissioned and distributed to seminar participants. The papers are:

"Improving Rural Telecommunications Infrastructure" by Bruce L. Egan, Special Consultant and Affiliated Research Fellow, Columbia Institute for Tele-Information

"Telecommunications Technology and American Rural Development in the 21st Century" by Dr. Edward J. Malecki, Professor at University of Florida

"Telecommunications and Rural Development: Threats and Opportunities" by Edwin Parker, President of Parker Telecommunications

The OTA Follow-Up Conference Report, "Rural America at the Crossroads: Networking for the Future" is now available. The report was written using the Conference transcripts and the three background papers.

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