I found your article, “Gigafight,” about high speed internet interesting. However, your lumping of Iowa Telecom in the same category as Bell South and Qwest, and implying monopolistic abuses by independent rural telecom companies was unfair and misleading. Rural telephone companies and cooperatives have a distinguished history of providing high quality, reliable, and affordable services to rural America. We answer not only to the FCC and state public utility commissions, but to our friends and neighbors as well. We take our responsibility to our communities very seriously.

In the your article you stated that Iowa Telecom customers pay $169.95 per month for broadband service that is available in New York for about $40. In fact, Iowa Telecom offers 256k broadband (broadband is minimally defined as 200kb/s) for $39.95, or 512kb/s for the same price with a 2 year commitment. Their prices are reasonable given the cost of providing broadband service in rural areas.

As to the issue of competition, rural telephone companies are not monopolies out here in the hinterlands. We are faced with a variety of competitors, including wireless, cable TV and satellite providers. Even in our most remote service areas, we must be competitive or lose out to others. While we may not be able to meet or beat the prices for broadband in New York, we do compete on price and we do provide the best services possible.

Bernie Armstrong
Director of Plant Operations
Southern Kansas Telephone

Mother Jones responds

Bernie Armstrong implies that we incorrectly reported the cost of Iowa Telecom’s high-speed internet service as $169/month rather than $40/month.

The service we were referring to does in fact cost $169/month (see here), and a comparable package from Verizon in NYC does cost around $40 (see here) — or even less.

Armstrong is correct that IT offers a $40/month plan. However, it is considerably slower than the $40 plan offered in New York City.

Dave Gilson
Research Editor
Mother Jones

Against Discouragement

Sorry boys and girls, but coming from the Vietnam group, I don’t buy it. I see all this talk about being antiwar, anti Bush, etc., but I still don’t see any viable ideas being put forward to first end this thing without deserting those we promised to help, and, second, to prevent the troops serving over there from getting the same blasting from the press that we got. Sorry, but I know the truth about what happened in Vietnam, and there are plenty of troops that know what is happening in Iraq, but we don’t hear from them.

Charles Perry

Some Like It Hot

Hi, obviously there are a few who see through the marvelous marketing put out by the current administration. Unfortunately, we are few.

Until we can find a way into the heart and conscience of the American populace, we are destined to watch the systematic dismantling of all that we once stood for as a nation. [Our] hard fought-for ideals are being subverted and stripped away one at a time.

Christian teaching and fundamentalism is said to be based on the Bible and teaching of Christ, [but] it has come to mean nothing of the sort to the ‘new Fundamentalist Christians’ that are now appearing on the scene. I long for the day of the Jesus Freaks of the sixties and seventies.

While George Bush denies the possible saving of millions of lives by denying ‘tax payer funds’ for stem cell research, using the excuse that he will ‘not use federal funds for programs that destroy life’, he and his pentagon friends spend millions of tax payer funds to build Tomahawk Cruise Missles, anti personnel mines, bullets and like items whose soul purpose is to destroy life … or as he says, ‘lifes’.

Thank God he is not long for the office, and hopefully someone with half a clue will convince the masses that the clowns in charge do not have the best interests of humanity at large in their interest.

Michael Harvey

Inside the Wire: An Interview With Erik Saar

I’m not in the habit of writing letters to the editor, but your interview with Erik Saar moved me to do so. He epitomizes what is best in the American character, he has done what is most difficult to do in times of national hysteria; he has spoken the truth as he sees it.

Dean Flowers

Pay Now, Pay Later

I have been a customer of Rent-A-Center since the early 1980’s. I have had problems from time to time with prices. Most times though, I was able to get a price that was more realistic.

I could go on for hours with stories about Rent-A-Center, both good and bad. But for the most part, when I need something I go to Rent-A-Center. I pay most items off early and thus get a discount. Many times the “90 days same as cash” price is way to high. I have been able to work with the manager of the store I deal with and get a more reasonable price. Most times I will get a month free on a new item. Most times when I purchase something large like a couch and love seat, (which I am purchasing now) I get a month free, a discount on the 90 days same as cash, and when I get it paid down to a reasonable price, I well go in and negotiate a better pay-off price.

I have a Sony big-screen, (60-inch) TV that is paid for from Rent-A-Center. In looking at store prices for this item, I paid just a little more after my time payment than I would have paid in a large department store.

So I would imagine there are problems with the way Rent-A-Center does business with what you call “the poor.” But if those people had [gone to the] managers as I have, they wouldn’t have the problems.

Bob Hart
Lansing, MI

Secret Way to War

After what happened to Dan Rather, (whose story was true, even if he was taken in by falsified documents), the major news sources appear to find it imprudent to take on the establishment. Those of us who read outside of regular channels were never taken in by the WMD pretext to go to war. Sadly, those whose children were killed or maimed tell themselves that their sacrifice was to “defend our freedom” — so as not admit a totally pointless sacrifice.

Vera Cousins
Grinnell, IA

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