If President Obama gets his way, nearly 98% of Americans will soon get access to high-speed, mobile broadband service.
While he hinted at the idea of improving technology infrastructure in his state of the union speech last month, this is among the first specific projects the president has unveiled.
And it’s a whopper.
The idea is to free up about 500 MHz of the wireless spectrum in the next ten years by offering to spread the proceeds of spectrum auctions with today’s spectrum holders — among them, TV stations that have unused airwaves.
How much will this set the government back? That’s something lawmakers are likely to pounce on and GOP legislators have already begun to balk at spending on broadband initiatives. It’s likely the auctions would raise about $27.8 billion in the next decade.
Obama’s plan would mean forking over $5 billion to bring 4G mobile broadband to areas commercial providers shun because they’re not lucrative enough for investment.
Another $3 billion of the spectrum auction fees would go to wireless broadband research and development.
A big chunk of change — around $10 billion — would be used to create a nationwide broadband network for public safety agencies, including police and fire departments. This item is something that first responders have been saying they need for a decade, since the 9/11 attacks of 2001.
It’s been talked about, discussed, promised and planned for, but never created, despite the catastrophic impact of poor communications during that national tragedy.