Strickland Criticizes FCC Chairman For Callous Remarks

February 28, 2001

WASHINGTON – Congressman Ted Strickland today sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell regarding comments he made about the digital divide in America.

Your comments…showed a lack of compassion for the needs of southern Ohio and other rural communities across the country, Strickland said in the letter.  It is disheartening to hear that the FCC Chairman considers narrowing the digital divide to be dangerous because it would lead to government investment in basic economic infrastructure.

Stricklands letter was sent in response to comments made by Powell who was recently named FCC Chairman.  Powell likened the digital divide to a Mercedes divide.

Id like to have one and I cant afford one, Powell said in his comments.

I think his remarks show a lack of understanding of the concrete problems that businesses and citizens face in rural communities, Strickland said.  With the rapid expansion of broadband services in urban and suburban areas of the country, it is becoming increasingly difficult for rural businesses to keep up with the technology because the infrastructure is simply not there.

The digital divide is a term used to describe the lack of access many Internet users have to broadband technology.  Broadband Internet access allows customers to use the Internet at rates up to 100 times faster that regular dial-up services.  This allows businesses to offer more services, better privacy and security, and faster response time to customers.

In the letter, Strickland also invited Chairman Powell to visit southern Ohio so that he could better understand the obstacles that rural communities face in developing a broadband infrastructure.

I dont believe that Chairman Powell has a real appreciation for the geographic and financial obstacles that rural communities face in developing broadband technology, said Strickland.  We in rural America are not asking for a Mercedes, we just want a fair opportunity to compete – and we simply cant compete with the technological equivalent of a Model T.