Obama to Unveil Wireless Broadband Initiative to Offer High-Speed Wireless Services to at Least 98% of Americans


laptop-wireless1President Barack Obama is set to unveil a plan to boost broadband wireless coverage across the U.S. and create a nationwide, interoperable wireless network for public safety, White House officials said Wednesday.Mr. Obama will lay out the initiative at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich. It’s expected to reduce the country’s deficit by $10 billion through the sale of wireless spectrum to businesses, said Jason Furman, deputy director of the National Economic Council.

The plan is aimed at building on efforts in the private sector to expand wireless coverage. Mr. Obama said in his State of the Union address that he wanted to make available high-speed wireless services to at least 98% of Americans. Mr. Furman said the initiative would also help spur job growth because workers will be needed to build the wireless networks.

Sales of commercial spectrum are expected to generate about $28 billion, the White House said, and the Obama administration will re-invest that money to help pay for the wireless initiative.

Mr. Furman said the initiative will include a $5 billion investment from the government, which will be included in Mr. Obama’s budget proposal, expected to be released Monday. The $5 billion will be used to get wireless access in rural areas.

Asked why the administration was willing to spend $5 billion for what some may see as a luxury, Mr. Furman said the proposal overall cuts the deficit and will increase public safety. White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra said broadband wireless access could also help businesses in rural areas reach customers around the world.

{Wall Street Journal/Matzav.com}