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Lawmakers Work Hard To Provide Internet Access To Rural N.C.; New Virus Invades Cellular Phones

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RALEIGH — Besides computers, cell phones may be vulnerable to a new virus. In addition, lawmakers are talking about how to get people who live in rural areas hooked up to the Internet. WRAL Technology Reporter Tom Lawrence has information on both stories. Lawmakers Work Hard To Provide Internet Access To Rural N.C.

The Senate Committee on Information Technology approved a bill that will eventually provide high-speed Internet access to rural parts of the state.

If the bill is approved by theLegislature, a Rural Internet Access Agency would manage and monitor the project. At least $30 million donated by theMicroelectronics Center of North Carolinawould cover most of the cost.

High-speed Internet access is aimed at creating job opportunities in rural counties.

"Basically, we want to grow out of the Research Triangle effect. That will be a good thing for all of our state," says Sen. Eric Reeves, president of the Senate Committee on Information Technology. "We want to see North Carolina be one of the best networked states in the country. We feel this is a great first step to be sure that happens."

In parts of rural North Carolina, Internet access is available only by long distance. The plan calls for Internet dial-up access from every telephone exchange within a year and high-speed access within two years. New Virus Invades Cellular Phones

A new worm virus has hit in Europe, but it does not appear to be crawling very far.

The "Timofonica" virus targets cell phones served by Telefonica, a Spanish cell phone company. So far, the problem is isolated.

"It was seen in a few companies in Spain," says Graham Culley ofSophos Anti-Virus. "At the moment, we haven't seen very many reports of this at all. Certainly zero in the English-speaking world."

"Timofonica" works like the"ILOVEYOU" virus, spreading through cell phones with e-mail capability.

Timofonica also affects handheld, e-mail capable devices such as the Palm Pilot.

Concern about the new worm virus stems from the likelihood that creators of these viruses want to infect most Internet-related devices.