TVA Rural Studies
Rural Telecommunications Workshop
October 28, 1996


Six years ago, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) was asked by the Joint Economic Committee of the Congress and Senators Charles Grassley and Orrin Hatch to study the "role that communications technologies can play in securing rural America's future." OTA brought together a distinguished panel of advisors to answer six fundamental questions:

  1. Will technological advances be made available in a timely manner to rural America?
  2. Does information-age technology involve economies of scale and scope that will enable rural businesses and communities to adopt these technologies?
  3. What are the expected economic effects of information-age technologies in rural areas, particularly on employment (including job creation, training needs, and job displacement) and investment (including capital requirements and public infrastructure)?
  4. Which rural areas are likely to have the greatest ability to make use of these new technologies?
  5. What roles can the various levels of government play in fostering information age technology?
  6. Can rural America expect to be competitive in serving national and international markets for the goods and services of this new era?

The effort resulted in a notable study: "Rural America at the Crossroads: Networking for the Future." Needless to say, much has changed in the intervening six years.

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