Obama details $18.2 billion wireless broadband plan

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President Barack Obama's budget to pay for new networks is $27.8 billion, which he will get by auctioning airwaves relinquished by television broadcasters. $10.7 billion will help build a nationwide wireless network for emergency workers, $5 billion will help Americans get mobile access to high-speed Internet service, and $3 billion will go to research and development. All in all, Obama expects to have $9.6 billion available for reducing the federal deficit, meaning that $18.2 billion will go towards the wireless broadband plan.

The White House explained Obama's "Plan to Win the Future through the Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative" in five major points:

  • Nearly Double Wireless Spectrum Available for Mobile Broadband: The President has set the goal of freeing up 500 MHz of spectrum for everything from smartphones to wireless broadband connectivity for laptops to new forms of machine-to-machine communication within a decade. Critical to realizing this goal are "voluntary incentive auctions" and more efficient use of government spectrum, estimated to raise $27.8 billion over the next decade.
  • Provide At Least 98% of Americans with Access to 4G High-Speed Wireless: Private investments are extending 4G to most of the Nation, but leaving some rural areas behind. The President's initiative would support a one-time investment of $5 billion and reform of the "Universal Service Fund" to ensure millions more Americans will be able to use this technology.
  • Catalyze Innovation Through a Wireless Innovation (WIN): To spur innovation, $3 billion of the spectrum proceeds will go to research and development of emerging wireless technologies and applications.
  • Develop and Deploy a Nationwide, Interoperable Wireless Network for Public Safety: The President's Budget calls for a $10.7 billion commitment to support the development and deployment of a nationwide wireless broadband network to afford public safety agencies with far greater levels of effectiveness and interoperability. An important element of this plan is the reallocation of the D Block for public safety and $500 million within the WIN Fund.
  • Cut the Deficit By $9.6 Billion Over the Next Decade: Nearly $10 billion of spectrum auction revenue will be devoted to deficit reduction.

Obama declared that wireless Internet would be available to 98% of Americans in five years in his State of the Union speech late last month. Now he has outlined his plan on how to achieve the goal. We're a bit less skeptical now, but we still think the goal is going to be very difficult to achieve.


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