rural broadband, rural internet access, digital divide


This study examines the monetary impact of tariffs on consumer internet access via a digital subscriber line (DSL). Historically, the Communications Act of 1934 mandated that telephony services be provided to everyone, without exclusion. With the rapid emergence of the internet, the Connect America Fund was recently implemented to ensure equal access to both voice and broadband services. Since many telephony companies have emerged as internet service providers, DSL internet service is often bundled together with a landline telephone, especially in rural areas. This study examines the total cost of such bundled DSL internet service across the classes of cities in the State of Nebraska as well as the total monetary impact. In recent years, a rapid reduction in landline telephone service subscribers has occurred. This steady decline in telephone service subscribers supports the idea that consumers typically do not want a landline. However, findings reveal that National Exchange Carrier Association tariffs enforce internet access plans which require the customer to purchase a landline telephone in order to obtain DSL internet access. Findings also reveal substantial cost differences between rural and urban populations’ internet access when factoring in the cost of a required landline telephone. The study holds significant importance for community leaders, state telecommunications regulators and any entity interested in the issue rural/urban equity of internet bandwidth and cost.

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