States respond to President’s nationwide wireless broadband initiative

Last week, President Obama traveled to Marquette County, Michigan to unveil a nationwide, high-speed wireless plan. The initiative received applause from a handful of governors who said the expansion would benefit their local economies and benefit efforts to build out the National Public Safety Broadband Network for first responders.

The $18 billion initiative would provide wireless broadband to 98 percent of Americans over the next five years and would be part of broad reorganization of wireless spectrum. The White House’s “Win the Future through the Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure” initiative would depend on nearly $28 billion raised through voluntary auctions currently held by television stations and government agencies.

Speaking at Northern Michigan University, President Obama highlighted the schools WiMAX network, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said his administration was focused on expanding wireless capabilities in the Upper Peninsula.

Governors from Vermont and Maryland also used the President’s initiative as an opportunity to spotlight their own work to expand wireless broadband in their states.

Governor Peter Shumlin said, “Clearly the President understands the need – and the financial benefits – of bringing high quality broadband and other telecommunication services to all areas of the country. This is an investment that will help farmers, bankers, students and virtually every American compete in our global marketplace.”

Vermont is working to expand broadband, mobile telephone service to 100 percent of the state by 2013.

Maryland’s Martin O’Malley focused on the National Governor’s Association work to develop the National Public Safety Broadband Network, calling the President’s initiative to re-allocate the D Block of spectrum for use by first responders a “critical goal for the interoperability of our public safety agencies and for the security of our citizens.”

According to the plan, $10.7 billion would fund the new public safety network, $5 billion would be a one-time allotment to expand wireless broadband in rural areas and $3 billion would go towards research to develop methods for using mobile Internet access for emerging technologies in health, education and energy.

Observers question the government’s ability to raise $27 billion through the proposed auction process, however.

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James Ferreira

I am going to jump in here and mention something. I sat through a presentation on this system and the public safety part will be built on top of existing infrastructure. I asked why not use the private systems, Verizon, AT&T, etc and got a laugh that it was a security risk. The presentation went on to talk about how if the Gov system got overloaded it would have priority surfing rights on the private systems. So it would seem security is an issue unless the service is down then it does’t matter. Hmm? My argument was why not save the money building redundant infrastructure and all the cost of managing it and put some of that into fixing the security problem and extending to rural areas.

As far as the expansion I am very excited and worried, will the gov system be able to keep pace with innovation in the private sector? Experience tells me we normally fight to get funding for a system that is already out of date by the time it is up and running. If we road on the consumer system gov could get all the benefits of the market system and put the saved money into pushing service into areas the commercial system have little interest.

Tell me why I am wrong.