President Barack Obama announced his high-speed wireless Internet initiative, which involves reallocating spectrum and up to $15 billion in spending.
In a speech at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., he said the goal is to bring advanced communications to underserved areas. We want to invest in the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage for 98 percent of Americans, Obama said. This isn't about faster internet, being able to find a friend on Facebook. It's about connecting every corner of America to the digital age. The goal, he said, is to provide fast Internet connections to 98 percent of the country.
Obama first hinted at the National Wireless Initiative during his State of the Union speech at the end of last month. In Michigan he went into more details.
One part of the plan is freeing up wireless spectrum for public safety agencies in an effort to make various networks interoperable. Up to 500 MHz of spectrum for everything from smartphones to wireless broadband would be released via a system of voluntary incentive auctions, in which broadcasters would give up unused spectrum. The administration estimates this will raise $27.8 billion over the next decade.
Obama also supported the Federal Communications Commission's plans to reform the Universal Service Fund, as well as a one-time investment of $5 billion to accomplish that. He also supports putting $10 billion into the development and deployment of a nationwide wireless broadband network.
The initiative was met with approval from the Consumer Electronics Association, one of the biggest technology trade associations in the world. CEA president Gary Shapiro, in a prepared statement, commended President Obama.
CEA and its members look forward to expanding wireless broadband, and in particular advancing the President's call for incentive auctions to redeploy underused broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband while reducing the federal deficit. We will continue to work closely with the President, the Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to ensure competitive broadband and innovative new wireless services are available to all Americans, Shapiro said.
The CTIA -Wireless Association also applauded the initiative by Obama. In an emailed statement, Chief Executive Steve Largent said the association is looking forward to working with White House to get to that 98 percent goal.
The President, along with the majority of policymakers in Washington, realize that in order for the U.S. wireless industry to continue to meet consumer demand and fuel the 'virtuous cycle' of innovation and competition, we must have more spectrum. Our members are willing to spend billions of dollars to purchase reallocated spectrum at auction so we can remain the world's leading wireless industry and provide consumers with the best products and services, Largent said.