Obama Unveils $18 Billion Wireless Plan For Rural Internet

While Republicans across the nation are screaming to cut spending, there's one thing in particular that's hard to scream about: education. But if there's a second thing, it's probably infrastructure. It's obvious that a nation's economy can be bolstered and boosted by widespread Internet access. Just look at nations where Internet is nearly everywhere (South Korea), compared to nations where it's almost nowhere (North Korea).

This week, President Barack Obama announced a new plan that acts as a bolt-on to the Rural Broadband initiative already going around. This new wireless access plan would extend wireless/broadband Internet to 98% of Americans, and if he plays his cards right, it could actually reduce the deficit. Of course, that's the point of contention, but focusing solely on the technology side of things for the purposes of this article, we can't help but be excited by that notion.

Obama said the following: "We can't expect tomorrow's economy to take root using yesterday's infrastructure. We've got to think about what's the next thing and make sure that we're at the forefront, just like we were in the last century." It's an $18 billion plan in total, which includes $5 billion to help the development of 4G networks in rural areas. Another $10 billion would be used to build a wireless network for first responders and emergency services, while the remaining $3 billion will be used in research for emerging wireless technologies.

How to pay for all of this? Obama hopes that the sale of freed wireless spectrum will, with a goal to raise $27.8 billion. It remains to be seen if that amount can be fetched, but we're all about broadband everywhere. Here's hoping it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to get it.

 FACT SHEET: President Obama’s Plan to Win the Future through the Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative

In his State of the Union address, President Obama set the goal of enabling businesses to provide high-speed wireless services to at least 98 percent of all Americans within five years.  The rollout of the next generation of high-speed wireless—the “4G” technology now being deployed in the United States by leading carriers—promises considerable benefits to our economy and society.  More than 10 times faster than current high speed wireless services, this technology promises to benefit all Americans, bolster public safety, and spur innovation in wireless services, equipment, and applications.  By catalyzing private investment and innovation and reducing the deficit by $9.6 billion, this initiative will help the United States win the future and compete in the 21st century economy.

    * 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.
Tags:  wireless, Obama, Coverage