The President has recently announced a new plan to free up huge chunks of the wireless spectrum, increase the national coverage of 4G networks, and install a wireless public safety network. These are ambitious goals being set by the administration, perhaps the most being the 4G investment which the President has pledged will cover 98% of Americans.
To make this all work, the White House is planning to raise $27 billion in spectrum auctions, and then turning that money around to fund the investment in these areas:
- $5 billion to bring 4G internet connections to rural America
- $3 billion for 4G research and development to coincide with the construction
- $10.7 billion for the wireless public safety network, which was called for years ago by the 9/11 commission
- $9.6 billion for budget deficit reduction
The push behind this investment invites comparison to the past efforts to bring telephone communication and highway travel to all corners of America, and the administration has framed it’s arguments in support of the investment in the same light. From Networkworld:
“America’s businesses are building out 4G networks to much of the nation,” the White House said in a statement. “Nevertheless, absent additional government investment, millions of Americans will not be able to participate in the 4G revolution. This investment will … extend access from the almost 95 percent of Americans who have 3G wireless services today to at least 98 percent of all Americans gaining access to state-of-the-art 4G high-speed wireless services within five years.”
Commentators have noted, however, that the entire plan hinges on the money brought in from auctions. As any eBay patron can tell you, those don’t always work out how you want. But the emphasis on bringing Internet connectivity (and public safety) to the nation as a whole, is a worthy one. Keep in mind, this isn’t so much about 4G as it is bringing the Internet to mostly poor, isolated, outlying communities. Hopefully this initiative, however it really pans out, will give every American a more equal footing in the burgeoning information economy. Perhaps it will be little things like someone making some extra money on Etsy, or bigger things like a farmer finding a better price for his crop.
Either way, it will bring us a step closer to all being united, as as a people, underneath that glorious community that truly identifies this country: Facebook. I mean, uh, the American dream.