U.S. President Barack Obama emphasized the importance of technology in America’s future and pushed for expanding high-speed wireless access in his annual State of the Union speech to Congress Tuesday night.
Obama said he would like to see high-speed wireless coverage expand to 98 percent of the U.S. within five years, a step he sees as helpful for business development and operations.
Taxpayer funding helped create the Internet, Obama said, and he’d like to see the government increase its commitment to investing in infrastructure, including transit, bridges and wireless capacity.
“This isn’t just about a faster Internet and fewer dropped calls,” he said. “It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age.”
In November, Obama’s administration endorsed a 10-year plan to make 500-megahertz of wireless airwaves available, effectively doubling the amount of spectrum. The move is intended to head off fears of a looming “spectrum crisis” consumers increasingly demand and use more smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Federal regulators are requiring television broadcasters, including NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC, to forfeit their rights to airwaves. In return, they will receive proceeds from an auction estimated to bring in $50 billion.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also doing its part to expand broadband access to rural areas, spending $1.2 billion in 126 broadband projects across the U.S. in August.