Obama Calls for Expanded Broadband Access

By Cindy Waxer January 26, 2011

President Barack Obama took the opportunity during his annual State of the Union speech to the U.S. Congress to emphasize the need for more robust high-speed wireless services in order to satisfy the increasing demands of consumers and organizations, as well reach out to rural areas.

"Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans," Obama said. "This isn't just about a faster Internet and fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age."

This isn’t the first time the President has called for expanded broadband access. TechZone360.com reported back in June that Obama signed a memorandum calling for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to make 500 megahertz of spectrum available for fixed and mobile wireless broadband in the next 10 years.

The thinking is that freeing up more airwaves will improve America’s economic competiveness, create jobs and help maintain America’s leadership role in technological innovation. Not to mention accommodate today’s burgeoning demand for iPhones, laptops and other mobile devices that connect to the Internet.

But freeing up airwaves isn’t the only digital dilemma facing the President. Last week, the NTIA released a report revealing that low-income, rural and some minority groups continue to lag significantly behind other U.S. groups in broadband adoption.

In fact, 64 percent of U.S. households had broadband service at home as of October 2009, up from 51 percent in 2007, said the report, based on a survey of 54,000 households by the U.S. Census Bureau. Another 5 percent of households connected to the Internet through dial-up service, compared to 11 percent in 2007.

Want to learn more about how federal regulations are shaping and re-defining communications and information technology? Then be sure to attend the Regulatory 2.0 Workshop, collocated with TMC’s ITEXPO East, taking place Feb 2-4, 2011, in Miami. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has pursued the singular goal of ubiquitous broadband access to an open Internet. While some progress has been made, the most difficult decisions are ahead. What's the Commission to do? This program will examine the important issues facing the FCC including net neutrality, inter-carrier compensation and universal service reform, new CALEA legislation, next generation 911, additional spectrum for wireless broadband and the evolving role of state regulation. To register, click here.

Edited by Janice McDuffee

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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