In a speech outlining his new initiative to expand wireless access and innovation, President Obama Thursday compared the effort aimed at connecting 98 percent of Americans to "next-generation, high-speed" wireless to past infrastructure projects such as building railroads and highways that also were aimed at advancing the nation's economy.
"This isn't just about a faster Internet or being able to find a friend on Facebook," Obama said during a speech at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich. "It's about connecting every corner of America to the digital age."
His initiative calls for generating funds from the auction of spectrum that would be provided by federal government users and through a proposal that would encourage broadcasters to give up some of their spectrum in exchange for a share of the proceeds from the auction of those airwaves. Some of this funding would go to help build a national interoperable broadband network for public safety and to help provide wireless broadband in rural areas. The plan also contemplates that $9.6 billion would be left over for deficit reduction.
"Now, access to high-speed internet by itself won't make a business more successful, or a student smarter, or a citizen more informed. That takes hard work. It takes those late nights. It takes that quintessentially American drive to be the best," Obama said. "But we have always believed that we have a responsibility to guarantee all our people every tool necessary for them to meet their full potential."