U.S. Broadband Plan Calls for Up to $25 Billion in New Spending

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski’s coming National Broadband Plan will propose up to USD 25bn in new federal spending for high-speed Internet lines and a wireless network for police and firefighters as part of a broader plan that appears to be a win for wireless companies. The plan will also offer a variety of ideas for expanding Americans’ access to affordable Internet over the next decade. Mr. Genachowski has been slowly releasing details about the plan, which will be released in mid-March, and last week suggested that Congress spend USD 12bn to USD 16bn for the wireless Internet network for police and firefighters. Whether Congress will agree to that much spending at a time of heightened concern over federal deficits is unclear. But the FCC proposal will represent a detailed outline of the Obama administration’s ambitions for expanding Internet service to all Americans. It would allocate significantly more airwaves for wireless broadband services, including a block of airwaves set aside for use by police and firefighters. The FCC says that about 4 percent of American households currently don’t have access to high-speed Internet service, mostly because they live in rural areas where it is prohibitively expensive for companies to offer service. One of Mr. Genachowski’s goals is to expand 100 megabit per second service to 100 million homes by 2020



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