By John Herrman
Posting in Government
Debuted in the last State of the Union address, President Obama's high-speed wireless Internet initiative caught plenty of peoples' attention. Now, we know how the plan will actually work.
For a passive viewer, President Obama's brief mention of a plan to expand next-generation wireless Internet access to the vast majority of America's citizens may not have stood out from rest of the 7000+ word speech. But from the technologically inclined, it garnered a mass double-take. Is he really talking about universal wireless Internet access? Is that a promise? Here's what he said:
Within the next five years, we'll make it possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans. This isn't just about — (applause) — this isn't about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age.
Today, we finally know what this really means. In a speech in front of a small crowd in Marquette, Michigan, President Obama laid out a more detailed vision for the expansion of wireless coverage across the country, and his administration released materials outlining how it would work, how much it will (or rather, should) cost, and what it could mean for the country. It's a lot to take in, and it's predictably couched in marketing and political jargon, so here's what you need to know:
- It's not a government ISP. Critics can be partially forgiven for jumping to such a conclusion, but the National Wireless Initiative is not a state-run ISP, or anything like one. It's a plan to encourage the spread of high-speed wireless Internet access by enabling and encouraging--and to extent, subsidizing--private providers' preexisting efforts.
- It's about infrastructure, not access. The use of the word "access" in the President's speech and his office's press materials implies that this initiative is intended to literally provide citizens with high-speed "4G" wireless Internet access. This is not the case. The 98% figure refers to how many people will live in areas where 4G wireless access is available as a product for either home or mobile use, from an ISP or wireless carrier. It's about expanding infrastructure, not directly extending access to users.
- It will actually make money. (Well, sort of.) For most citizens, the plan is best understood as separate initiatives: a one-time, $5 billion investment in the spread of wireless infrastructure to underserved areas; and a wireless spectrum auction, which should raise $27.8 billion over the next ten years. The second plan depends on broadcasters voluntary giving up sections of the wireless spectrum to be used for Internet service. The existing spectrum licensees will get a cut of the auction price as an incentive for freeing up their respective sections of the 500MHz that the President hopes to be able to reallocate. These auctions are likely to take place whether or not the President is granted the $5 billion he wants for infrastructure investment, so it's a bit disingenuous to present these two initiatives in the same breath; they complement one another, but they aren't strictly codependent.
- There's a precedent for this kind of thing. How will this $5 billion dollars be spent? By reforming and utilizing the avenues established by the Universal Service Fund, an FCC subsidiary created in the late 1990s to encourage the expansion of so-called "advanced telecommunications services" to underserved areas. (While this has generally been an infrastructure-focused program, it's worth noting that it has also provided subsidies to individuals for low income families for telephone service installation and bills.)
- There's a national security angle, of course. Touted more quietly but nonetheless important (and hugely expensive) is a proposal to build out a wireless network for security purposes. Says the White House: "The 9/11 Commission noted that our homeland security is vulnerable, in part, due to the lack of interoperable wireless communication among first responders. The rollout of 4G high speed wireless services provides a unique opportunity to deploy such a system in conjunction with the commercial infrastructure already being developed and deployed." This will cost an estimated $10.7 billion, and allocate a specific block of the wireless spectrum for use for public safety, first responders, etc. This figure is included in the administration's estimate for a $9.6 billion deficit reduction, and is theoretically provided for by the aforementioned spectrum auctions.
Image courtesy of the White House/Pete Souza
Feb 11, 2011
I think this is a great idea. Much needed. Of course, some people like to b!tch just to hear themselves b!tch.
I believe that a lot of the negative comments, here, should be sent to your congressman(or woman), not necessarily posted just here. The problem with americans, as I see it, is that we whine about taxation without representation and then we never contact our elected officials to bitch about upcoming legislation. Of course it's a bad idea. Anytime the Feds get involved, it's all about the revenue and nothing else. Some number cruncher, somewhere, has alread done the math. You can double or tripple the figures showin in the article because NOTHING ever comes in at or under the proposed costs that Washington releases. Secondly, and probably more importantly, anytime that the Feds, so-to-speak, declare WAR on anything, be it "Education" or "Drugs" (Is everyone getting their fifteen-to-twenty minute diets of drug commercials on TV every night?), it gets botched! Like a commedian once said, "I wish the Feds would declare War on Hot Babes. All of the sudden, they would be EVERYWHERE!" How about Biden? Would that proposed High-Speed Rail Corridor work for you, right now? What a joke D.C. is!
The question isn't so much how much it costs you but what is the value of the investment for the country. It's like the Headstart program which provides $9 in benefits for every $1 spent on it. That $9 in benefits includes the increased income of the kids who go through it and the decreased costs for welfare and law enforcement. But the benefits don't really materialize for 15 or 20 years. In the same way this investment in broadband infrastructure will undoubtedly pay back far more than is invested in it in the long run. If all you care about is yourself and you don't give a damn if the country goes down the drain by not investing in the future then you deserve what will happen to US.
So according to @Boomshadow in his little thought experiment above, if you have EVER derived any benefit from government, then you have no right to reject this proposal. How's that again? Let's see, according to http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxfreedomday/ I worked from Jan 1, 2010 - April 1, 2010 to pay for all federal, state, and local taxes. And that makes me an "internet tough guy" who has to say "yes" to another government intrusion into my pocketbook? According to the Progressive Ilk like him/her: how much is enough? Why just a little bit more!
#22, In fact Al Gore created and introduced the High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991 which led to the development of the National Information Infrastructure. This led pretty directly to what we know as the Internet today. So when Al Gore said "I took the initiative in creating the Internet" he wasn't saying he "invented" it but it came about pretty directly as a result of the act he wrote and introduced. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Performance_Computing_and_Communication_Act_of_1991
OBAMA! THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU ARE THERE FOR! IN FACT, PLEASE: G_O___ A_W_A_Y___ N_O_W ! PS: DoctorEigenFlow - nice post.
REP was to address a problem where as much as 25 percent of the population lacked electricity. We are talking 2 percent here that do not have high speed 4 G or comperable access. Any kind of internet access pushes the number with access past 99.999 percent. Those who have no access are in areas where they do not want access.
This is a good idea if it's implemented before it becomes obsolete.With technology chaging at a rapid pace it's harder to figure out whats new or old tech anymore ,unless you're one of the developers.
Well, we had a Vice-President, who invented the internet, now we have a President, who wants to get paid for it! This should keep our minds off the real problem. Push "1" for English!
THE ENGINE OF ECONOMIC GROWTH IN THIS 21ST CENTURY IS "BROADBAND." The advances and Potential of Information Communications Technology (ICT), specifically Health Information Technology, will Improved every Aspect of Human Life. We can start by Deployment of a pure Packet-based, All Optical/IP, Multi-Service National TRANSPORT Network Infrastructure, using Opticaal Ethernet throughout this National "NETWORK OF NETWORKS.), THIS WILL CONNECT ALL OPTICAAL ISLANDS, NATIONWIDE. We must used some of the Stimulus Funds, in combination with a 50/50 Joint Venture of Government and private Sector Investments, to Build an Intelligent INFRASTRUCTURE SERVICES for: Broadband Services, Healthcare IT, Smart Transportation Systems, and Smart Grids. BROADBAND SERVICES: We must make maximum Use of our Spectrum Resources. We need to Used our Technological Strength in Incrweased the CAPACITY of this every limited Resource (i, e, increased Air Interface/Spectral Efficiency). HEALTHCARE IT We also must properly Deployed Health Information Technology Solutions, and provide the Required Proper/Appropriate TRAINING, this will Increased Productivity (i, e, medical data mining/warehousing, risks treatment, service delivery), increased Efficiency (i, e, medical erros, redundant and inappropriatee care), and still provide us with a Cost Savings of around 20-30% of Annual National Healthcare Expenditures (2009, $2.5 trillion). The Investment in this National "NETWORK OF NETWORKS), in addition to New Jobs Creation and Economic Recovery, this Investment can SERVE as a Business DRIVER for: Law Enforcement National Network, e-Government, e-Commerce, e-Education, e-Healthcare, Bio-Surveillance, Energy and Transportation Systems, Social Networking, Entertainment, etc. This Investment is like the Investments made in the past, in ERA, TVA, the National Rail Road, and the National Transpportation Inter-State Highways, which increased Productivity and our GDP. PLEASE SEE: www.nationwideehrinteroperability.blogspot.com gkquoquoi.blogspot.com www.globalhealthcarenetwork.blogspot.com www.globalhealthcaresservices.blogspot.com Gadema K. Quoquoi President & CEO COMPULINE INTERNATIONAL, INC.
What Obama SHOULD be doing is increasing the pressure on law enforcement agencies to keep their hands OFF the net, except in PROVABLE cases of espionage, and that's court ordered surveillance linked cases... not random sampling and then inference as to what MAY be going on. Obama who claimed to be a constitutionalist when he ran, has turned out to not support the constitution, instead he merely flows from one place to the next as he is pressured. I wrote to the White House and suggested that he look into offering bonifide American citizens, under certain guidelines so that forming business and making money for Americans are not undermined, to allow the Patent Dept. to accept patent filings for $99.95. Currently, the majority of U.S. Patents are being given to foreign interests, and the lion's share of the rest, are big companies who file patents to keep others from competing, not! to use the patents to make devices to provide capital for employment and profit when dealing with international concerns, etc. Its a big game, and America has lost its claim as the largest intellectual property creators in the world because of the difficulties and costs involved in protecting our rights. It's the same with the net. Currently the net is the only low cost mass production communication facility available... and then you have usurpers of bandwidth under the guise of social benefits who offer fashionista appeal products that seduce people to reveal private information to strangers in the hopes that all is good, comfortable, and convenient... I'd like to point out, THIS is my opinion, JUST what I think, and you may not agree with it, but then... you don't have to. IF I WAS THE GOVT., in the future when more and more control seems more natural, I would have someone place a call to me, warning... I mean, cautioning ME to please SHUT UP and not post anymore as others, are merely uncomfortable with me doing so... and THAT'S the way it is going to be, IF YOU PEOPLE LET IT HAPPEN. The benefit is a FREE INTERNET that anyone can use, and Obama is saying, "No way pal, you have got to color between the lines", and some of you think that is just fine?? Yeah, see you in the gulag!
I see TWO basic notions implicit to Obama's efforts: 1) To find a way to increase the tax on the internet. 2) To find a way to allow surveillance of all communications online. No benefits for the minorities are worth!, giving the power of the net to the government. And you protractors, don't start with your, "the govt. already has power over the internet'... no, they don't, which is WHY they are moving to contain us. THEY KNOW that from each of the major political events internationally since the net became pervasive, they know from WikiLeaks, they know from the videos, photos and words from our enemies and friends alike showing what is REALLY going on in the world, they know from the attacks on our secure systems... that the internet IS STILL FREE! So, they want to lock it up! and this is how they figure they can sell the concept, to dupes who will think this means more movies, music and fun will soon be had by all. THE INTERNET... is still FREE! Independent of mass control. Don't support further moves towards intellectual slavery folks... don't let them get control! It'll start with just a penny cost, and a tiny amount of 'planning' and then grow and grow and grow, until it cost dollars in fees and surcharges, and every single thing done on line is regulated! And I mean CENSURED! Not just porn, but the words you use, and the ideas you have... seriously!
I agree with those that are pointing out that the government has done some good things for people in this country. I know I've had to depend on help before and I have family that are depending on the government now. I feel the biggest problem is that those that have, don't want anyone else to have it too, they want to be the only ones with their goodies. In our rural area we have a ?choice? of one phone company ATT and that's it. We didn't get a chance for faster internet until a year ago. It was cheaper than the dial-up we paid for, now the dial-up price has gone down but why charge so much for dial-up to begin with. Profits that's why. We had no choice so we were under the thumb of the corporation. I'd rather have a choice, and believe me, in this rural area our choices of gas, food, electricity, and telephone prices are governed by the benevolent corporations others think should be in charge of the internet. Oh and that last about benevolent corporation....that was sarcasm, or better an oxymoron.
The fastest way to get the internet to more people would simply require a change at the FCC in the limitation rules that govern wifi. The technology for wifi to reach further has existed for years but the FCC restricts how far a device is allowed to send or transmit and how much amplification is allowed just like radio. Remember the 50s for example when pirate radio from Mexico and from boats in the gulf could broadcast all the way to NYC? That was because they blew off FCC rules and amped up the signal. Or the Hawaii School system that got around the rules and broadcasted wifi over miles via a microwave transmitter the way analog cell phones used to work and long distance land lines. Just open up the rules FCC and stop constraining the manufacturers. Wifi technically could reach millions more and broadband speeds by utilizing the existing system. Did we all also forget the billions we spent to run fiber all over the US? Most research indicates that goes largely under utilized, another Government plan wasting our money. Add wireless regional transmitters along that national network and open the FCC restrictions and the deal is done.
Sorry for the last post -- it was my first and apparently I used the "pre" tag incorrectly. Here's what I tried to post (hopefully I get the html right this time): Many of the comments I have read here are quite concerning. For those who oppose the broadband initiative becase they believe the government breaks everything (and BELIEVE me, I understand your point), please remember that our government developed the Internet in the first place. In the history of America, our government also encouraged the expansion of the railway system; the telecommunications system; the electrical system; and the public highway and transportation system across America. These efforts were gargantuan. Without a cooperative effort between public and private enterprise, these accomplishments would have been virtually impossible. Similar to the Rural Electrification Program (REP), the Rural Electric Association (REA) through a co-op concept was responsible for bring electricity to rural Texans across vast distances and continues to function today. I'm sure there are many other programs statewide or nationwide that could be listed to make the point. We certainly need to keep an eye on our government -- that's our job as citizens -- but it is our government. It belongs to all of us, not just some of us. We stand together with a common cause, or we fall together without one.
Except for those of TAPhilo, most of the comments I have read here are quite concerning. For those who oppose the broadband initiative becase they believe the government breaks everything (and BELIEVE me, I understand your point), please remember that our government developed the Internet in the first place. In the history of America, our government also encouraged the expansion of the railway system; the telecommunications system; the electrical system; and the public highway and transportation system across America. These efforts were gargantuan. Without a cooperative effort between public and private enterprise, these accomplishments would have been virtually impossible. Similar to the Rural Electrification Program (REP), the Rural Electric Association (REA) through a co-op concept was responsible for bring electricity to rural Texans across vast distances and continues to function today. I'm sure there are many other programs statewide or nationwide that could be listed to make the point. We certainly need to keep an eye on our government -- that's our job as citizens -- but it is our government. It belongs to all of us, not just some of us. We stand together with a common cause, or we fall together without one.
*sigh* All of you who are against this plan, raise your hand. Okay, I can't see you, but I'm going to assume that a bunch of you have done that. Now...all of you who have benefited from the government in some way, shape, or form, put your hands down. That means, if you have had government assistance--Social Security, disability, Medicare, Medicaid, AFDC, GI Bill, or anything else that involved goods, services, or funds provided by the federal government, put your hands down. If your hand is somehow still up--and I'm not saying you're lying, but the odds are against it--and you have ever driven on the Interstate Highway System, put your hands down. That means if you've driven on a road whose name started with an I (or an H, if you live in Hawaii) and ends in a number, put your hands down. If you've ever had an environmental disaster cleaned up in or near your neighborhood, put your hands down. (Yes, I live on the Gulf Coast, so I'm aware that the Feds' track record hasn't been exactly squeaky clean on this one.) If you've ever had a natural disaster in your area...okay, never mind that one. But still, your hand should probably already be down. If a criminal has been apprehended by the FBI after crossing into your state but before he had a chance to hurt you or the ones you love, put your hands down. NOW...if by some miracle you are fortunate enough to still have your hand up, you have been alive during the time that the Department of War or Department of Defense has been operational, put your hands down. And hush. You Internet Tough Guys? wouldn't last ten minutes without a government running things. You're a bunch of cattle.
I wish this idiot wuold do more to put money back to where it belongs instead of trying to fix what isn't broke. What an idiot.
What a romantic view! NOT! Not only does Obama want to give my money away, but he wants to spend my money to make the Internet faster so people can get HD Youtube and movies. There is no reason to give movies to everyone. The Internet as it is good for communications.
This has been done before, back in the 1930s under Roosevelt with the Rural Electrification Program - tax everyone and give the money to private firms to build electrical lines to the farmlands. Firms are not going to spend money to a single family or even 20 - 50 if it is going to take them 30+ years JUST go get back the cost of building the lines to the people. So charge everyone a new surcharge fee of 50 cents to a dollar so that firms will build high speed internet lines to all the scattered people out of the cities (who grow / raise our food!) so they have the same communication lines as people in cities get. Charge eveyone $1 a month for as a Liberty Communication Fee to fund the build out the lines - there has to be at LEAST 500 million phones or so in the USA (FCC does not publish the total number of phones lines in the USA on their web site so that is a guess) so at least $6 BILLION a year can be used to build communication lines to the rural areas. In two years everone could be connected. $12 a year per phone line is not that much.
2% of the population without: that's 6.1 million people or all the residents of: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. And it's only going to cost $5 Billion? Such a deal!
I have been with an organization that provides high speed internet to rural areas. We have gotten several project grants to expand our services, both wireless and fiber. This appears to be another fund to apply for.
"It?s a plan to encourage the spread of high-speed wireless Internet access by enabling and encouraging?and to extent, subsidizing?private providers? preexisting efforts." Subsidies, in other words other people's money will fund this. Does this mean the Universal Service Fund tax will go up? Why should anyone be subsidized? The countries going broke and Obama is still "investing". When are end users going to take responsibility for where they chose to live, rather than have someone else subsidize their streaming video connection? I live in a small town, we've been told not to expect fiber from Verizon or 4G anytime soon. Do I expect the government (taxpayers money) to subsidize new connections for me? No, nor should I or anyone else.
Government only breaks things or makes them more difficult when they already exist in the private sector. Does this mean my tax dollars will somehow pay for the indigent population to be able to surf porn and vote D to keep it free? It's like this: The cost of flying your own airplane is very high - and thus the skies are mostly clear and free of danger and misc falling objects. Give everyone and their dog a flying something-or-other and we'll all have junk raining on us all. The skies will be cluttered and more dangerous. The next logical step would be heavier regulation, fines, etc.. I think this is where this all is going.
Furthermore, this makes it that much easier for the feds to "turn off" the internet when "necessary" for the public good. Or whatever. Clearly a bad idea.
I spent the first ten years in this boon docks area using dial up. I nearly lost my mind. I tried three different satellite companies but I am apparently in a dead zone for that reception. Just my luck. Finally we got broadband that worked fairly fast but only at intervals. Then we got a repeater station about 10 miles east of here and the signal got big and bright and faster than ever. I love it. But I would sure love superfast service like I had at work. But I also figured you could not have superfast tech and the joy of the rural life too. I like the dirt roads and the easy going ways of farmers and ranchers. But it sounds like I might have both before too many more years go by. I don't mind paying for it, I just want it available.
What worries me is the Government just wants to get there hands in it. They give us something or make it look like they are giving us something than they take over and tax and fee us to death. Why not just let the free market system fill it as needed. If not profitable to, why force it. It is obviously not worth it. Once they, the government get into our pockets it is the end. Always has been and always will.
And the real bottom line is that there will undoubtedly be yet another mysteriously termed $$surcharge added to our monthly communications and utility bills. What will they call this one?
Well Jeff Healy said it best ..Mr. Obama ."your love for us is nothin' but a flim-flam...you can't pull the wool over me cause I'm a confidence man!