February 11th, 2011 10:45 EST
President Obama's Wireless Plan Fails To Connect
President Barack Obama delivered a speech in Marquette, Mich., on Thursday, highlighting a new proposal for wireless innovation and infrastructure. The president echoed his earlier remarks from the State of the Union address regarding plans to invest in expanding wireless coverage to 98 percent of Americans and, in the president`s words, "connect every corner of America to the digital age."
The president`s plan would authorize the sale of more public spectrum to wireless providers, and it would invest $5 billion from those auction proceeds in the buildout of so-called 4G wireless networks in rural areas. In addition, auction revenues would be used to fund a nationwide interoperable public safety network, seed a $3 billion wireless innovation fund," and lower the federal deficit.
Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner made the following statement:
While we are pleased to see the president focusing on our nation`s broadband challenges, we are concerned that the public interest is being overlooked in this proposal to sell more of our public airwaves to wireless companies like AT&T and Verizon. These industry giants are already building out their networks and expanding coverage, and they don`t need a handout from the federal government to achieve the president`s goals.
Further, the president`s proposal does not contain any policies that would encourage people to adopt broadband. Studies have shown that if you build it, they may not come. According to the FCC`s own data, 98 percent of households in the United States already have access to wireless broadband service, while less than one-third subscribe to it.
If Americans are being asked to give up more of our public airwaves to private industry, we should see a real benefit. Our nation is falling behind the rest of the world in broadband quality and adoption, symptoms of the woeful state of competition in our communications markets. Unfortunately, the president`s plan fails to address these very real problems and offers no policies that would create real competition, spur innovation and help Americans get connected.
If we don`t seriously consider policies that would help Americans get online, we won`t be winning the future. We`ll be selling it short. And we`ll be locking in the uncompetitive wireless market and stranding tens of millions of Americans on the wrong side of the digital divide. "
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