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Abstract

The goals of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 include lower prices and higher quality services for customers. However, representatives of small telephone companies are concerned that rural areas will bear the brunt of the costs of a more competitive communications sector but receive few of the benefits. About 90 percent of 127 small telephone companies that responded to a nationwide survey believed that rural customers would benefit very little or not at all from the act’s provisions. Rather, they believed the major benefits will accrue to business, high-toll (typically high-volume users), and urban customers, and to large telecommunications companies. State governments and public utility commissions may need to take action to ensure that rural residents have reasonably priced access to advanced telecommunications services.

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