President Barack Obama outlined the details of a newly introduced White House plan intended to bring reliable 4G wireless broadband to 98 percent of Americans within the next five years during a speech at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich. yesterday. The core of the plan would ask, though not require, local TV stations to give up a chunk of the broadcast spectrum assigned to them by the Federal Communications Commission. The chunks would then be auctioned off to wireless companies with the donating broadcaster getting a piece of the of proceeds. In effect, it’s an effort to get the most out of our broadband spectrum, which is a limited quantity.
“Every American deserves access to the world’s information,” Obama told the gathered crowd in his distance-learning session powered by 4G WiMax. “Every American deserves access to the global economy. We have promised this for 15 years. It’s time we delivered on that promise.”
The White House estimates that the auctions would raise roughly $30 billion over the next decade. Obama proposes that a large chunk of that figure, $10 billion, be used to outfit public safety and emergency services with reliable wireless networks. $5 billion will go towards establishing 4G availability in “rural areas” of the country and another $3 billion will be spent on funding additional research.
The remainder comes to roughly $10 billion, a figure which will likely generate resistance to the plan among those concerned with the federal deficit and national debt, numbers that reach into the trillions. House Energy and Commerce Commission chairman Rep. Fred Upton doesn’t agree with the planned payouts, a fact he made clear in a statement. “While I would welcome most any plan that actually raises $27.8 billion, I would caution against turning around and spending the majority of it in the current economic environment.”