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FCC Decision Could Affect
Rural Phone Service in Oklahoma (Aug 28, 2007)

The Federal Communications Commission is considering capping the budget for the Universal Service Fund, a program that helps cell phone companies provide coverage to customers in sparsely-populated areas. You may have noticed the fund as a small tax that comes out of your phone bill each month. Itís basically a government subsidy that enables wireless providers to build cell sites in areas that might otherwise be deemed unprofitable. Tomorrow weíll hear about the proposed budget freeze as well as reaction from Oklahomaís Congressional delegation, but first, we thought weíd check in with one mountainous community in southeast Oklahoma that could be affected.

The tiny town of Cloudy is thirty-one miles north of Hugo, but itís so small that you wonít find it on some state maps. It bears the unfortunate distinction of not having any landline telephone service and only spotty cell coverage. The reason is a complex web of legal, geographical and jurisdictional nightmares, but Cloudy is also an example of the kind of place where federal money from the Universal Service Fund could go a long way toward finally making phone service available. We speak to resident and business owner Charlotte Hannah (4:00).

WEB EXTRA: Listen to Hannah describe her failed efforts to get phone service in her town MP3

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