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Obama forms council to bring faster broadband Internet to more people

President Barack Obama has formed an initiative that aims to bring fast and affordable broadband Internet to more people. On Monday morning, the President signed a memorandum that formally creates the Broadband Opportunity Council, an interagency program that will focus on increasing broadband adoption and stimulating competition between broadband providers.

“Access to high-speed broadband is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity for American families, businesses, and consumers,” Obama said in his memorandum.

“The Federal Government has an important role to play in developing coordinated policies to promote broadband deployment and adoption, including promoting best practices, breaking down regulatory barriers, and encouraging further investment. Doing so will help deliver higher quality, lower-cost broadband to more families, businesses, and communities and allow communities to benefit fully from those investments.”

The creation of the council is in line with the President’s push for “Broadband That Works,” which was first implemented in small cities in Iowa, Tennessee, Missouri, and Louisiana. The areas that first joined the program are said to have Internet speeds 100 times faster than the national average, and faster than major cities such as New York and San Francisco. Authorities also claim that the service comes at a lower price due to local competitors.

The local competition slant remained in the mandate for the new initiative. The program’s fact sheet mentioned the FCC’s recent ruling on municipal broadband networks. Last month, the agency pre-empted state laws that restricted municipal networks from expansion in North Carolina and Tennessee.

The council, which is headed by the secretaries of the Agriculture and Commerce departments, has the resources of 25 government agencies. Its policy objectives include the removal of regulatory barriers and assessment of the effectiveness of broadband competition policies that are already in place. The group is expected to report back to the president in 150 days with specific recommendations on local choice issues.