Rural Internet, the Modern REA

That ups the odds that a temporary spending resolution will be needed to keep the government funded when FY 2022 starts October 1.

Washington Insider: Rural Internet, the Modern REA

The House Agriculture Committee this week will markup the Broadband Internet Connections for Rural America Act (HR 4374), a measure to bring Internet to rural areas of the country.

“Rural broadband is critical for the growth and development of our rural communities, and it is essential that we act to finally close the digital divide that has kept so many of our rural communities from reaching their full potential, which is why the House Agriculture Committee is leading the charge on this effort,” said Chairman David Scott, D-Ga. “This bill will direct $50 billion toward critically needed infrastructure for rural broadband and also includes resources to ensure that this funding is used in a timely manner and accessible to rural communities with limited resources.”

Indeed, rural Internet systems clearly were tested during the pandemic with students taking their classes from home and many working from their homes remotely, using Internet connections to make that happen.

But many also found out the limitations of broadband Internet access in rural America.

While the effort is likely to easily clear the House Agriculture Committee and potentially the full House, it would appear the hasty effort to get the measure pushed through – the markup was only announced Monday afternoon for the Wednesday session – may be one that has lawmakers eyeing the bipartisan infrastructure package as a potential vehicle to put the measure in motion.

What some are opening suggesting is that a Rural Electrification Administration (REA) effort is what needs to take place. And the concept of the REA was sparked by the rise in electricity in urban areas. It was estimated that in 1935 when the REA was formed, 90% of farms still relied on kerosene lanterns and candles for light and they relied on wood burning stoves to heat their homes. And they did not have electric power to provide them running water.

While there were several systems that would use wind power to collect and store electricity in large glass-enclosed batteries in what many called “Delco Systems,” those were the exception rather than the norm and were found on the farms of those that were more well to do.

In the late 1920s and before he left office in 1933, President Herbert Hoover agreed that the electrification of rural America was important, but he wanted to leave it to the private sector to make it happen. Then came the Great Depression, and many of the private efforts folded up as the economy crashed.

Enter the REA which was created in 1935. The cost of delivering electricity into rural areas was still not cheap when the REA was launched, estimated in 1935 to be around $2,000 per mile. By the time we reached 1939, the cost had gone down to around $600 per mile. Put in today’s dollars, the cost dropped from $38,740 per mile down to $11,622 per mile.

And the concept of the REA was developed by Morris Llewellyn Cooke, a mechanical engineer who had come up with the plan to distribute power in New York and Pennsylvania. When REA was launched, President Franklin Roosevelt tapped Cooke as the first administrator. By 1937, some 1.5 million farms were electrified through 350 rural cooperatives in 45 of 48 states. Almost half of all farms had electricity by 1942 with nearly all farms electrified by 1950.

However, there were still a handful of those who didn’t trust power coming through a wire into their house and they did not opt to have it installed. Those farms were few and far between, but they were still a factor in the situation.

Congress started the effort with $410 million, the equivalent of $7.9 billion in today’s dollars. The REA was essentially a government financing project that was subsidizing loans to private companies, public agencies or cooperatives for the construction of the electrical supply infrastructure. The repayment terms were over 25 years and eventually the interest rate was fixed at 2% after 1944.

Money lent by the REA was also largely repaid, with a default rate of less than 1%. Telephone service was added to their effort. The REA and its successor the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), has organized nearly $57 billion in federal guaranteed low-interest loans for the development of electric and telephone cooperatives.

And now the focus is shifting to the Internet. Indeed, agriculture has already seen what a government-subsidized system can do in terms of providing what is an essential service to rural America.

It is no coincidence that RUS is again being eyed for the effort to help bring rural America up to par with urban areas of the country.

So we will see. The pandemic revealed what many already knew, few have been willing to push broadband Internet into rural areas and efforts like those under consideration could hold great potential provided that the end result does not produce a system that truly does bring that service into areas that need it, and so the situation needs to be watched closely as it comes closer to becoming reality, Washington Insider believes.

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Diberitahukan Kepada Mahasiswa Fakultas Teknik.

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(UMA,27/3/2019), Fakultas Teknik Universitas Medan Area mengadakan acara Pelantikan Dekan Baru yang diadakan di Convention Hall UMA. Acara dihadiri oleh Rektor dan Seluruh Fungsionaris UMA. Dengan dilantiknya Dekan Baru Dr. Faisal Amri Tanjung, SST, MT maka resmi menggantikan Dekan Fakultas Teknik sebelumnya Prof. Dr. Armansyah Ginting, M.Eng.

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Rektor menyampaikan pesan kepada Dekan Fakultas Teknik yang baru dilantik akan melanjutkan program kerja yang sebelumnya telah dimulai oleh Dekan Lama, Rektor juga berharap salah satu program studi di fakultas teknik dapat meraih akreditas “A”.

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Serah Terima Jabatan Wakil Dekan Bidang Akademik Fakultas Teknik UMA

Medan(11/3/2019), Fakultas Teknik Universitas Medan Area Mengadakan Rapat Serah Terima Jabatan Wakil Dekan Bidang Akademik Periode Maret – November 2019. Acara ini dibuka oleh ibu Yuana Delvika, ST, MT dengan membacakan Surat Keputusan Pengangkatan Wakil Dekan Bidang Akademik yang baru.

Pada kesempatan ini, Ibu Sherlly Maulana, ST, MT selaku Wakil Dekan Bidang Akademik yang lama menyampaikan kesan dan pesan selama menjabat sebagai WD-I Fakultas Teknik. Dalam pesannya, ibu Sherlly menghimbau agar seluruh fungsionaris FT-UMA tetap kompak, berjiwa kekeluargaan, dan juga sinergi dalam bekerjasama tim. Acara serah terima jabatan WD-I FT-UMA juga dilakukan penandatanganan resmi olah ibu Sherlly Maulana, ST, MT dengan menyerahkan jabatannya kepada ibu Susilawati, S.kom, M.Kom..

 

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Prodi Teknik Informatika, Fakultas Teknik, Universitas Medan Area, Journal of Informatics and Telecommunication Engineering, terbit vol 3 No. 1 di Bulan Juli 2019, mengundang para peneliti, dosen dan akademisi untuk menulis dan mengirimkan artikelnya yang akan di-publis.