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"We have been focused on growing broadband subscribers in rural markets for over seven years, having evolved from a single market operator to a company that is one of the largest providers of wireless broadband in the country," CEO Jonathan Snyder said in a statement. "The rural wireless broadband industry is extremely fragmented, with very few companies realizing any economies of scale in their businesses. Considering the current lack of capital available in the market, the Rural UniFi initiative represents a way for wireless broadband companies to unlock the value of their networks.”

So there is a chance – which scarcely seemed possible a year ago – that the stimulus program may do more than bring access to some rural communities and may provide a catalyst to push the US industry towards its open access future rather more quickly than some operators had hoped. It is notable that, in some countries, no such optimism is felt – universal broadband targets and funding plans to support them are getting weighed down in bickering and diverted to large carriers' interests, as seen in the UK and elsewhere.

This may be a chance for the US to set the open broadband agenda rather than be distracted by the powerful interests of its big two carriers, and if the stimulus program plays a role in opening up one of the most top-heavy markets in the world, then it will certainly lend credibility to the Obama administration's statements on telecoms and media reform.

Copyright © 2009, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

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