WASHINGTON (CN) – The government unveiled a sweeping proposal Tuesday to wire the country with broadband service after determining that with only 65 percent of Americans linked to high-speed internet, the United States lags behind other countries to the extent that it interferes with national competitiveness.
The move to link 100 million homes to broadband over the next decade is consistent with the Obama administrations view that high-speed internet access is no longer a luxury, but a critical component of a healthy economy.
Federal Communications Commission Chair Julius Genachowski said, “The National Broadband Plan is a 21st century roadmap to spur economic growth and investment, create jobs, educate our children, protect our citizens, and engage in our democracy.”
Genachowski has said that the United States is lagging behind other countries in internet access, but plans for 90 percent of Americans to have broadband access by 2020.
The new plan – which was mandated by the stimulus package passed last year – calls for the government to siphon airwaves from television, and auction them instead to expand capacity for internet service. The proposal has already triggered opposition from powerful telecommunications companies.
The move would provide affordable 100-megabit-per-second service to 100 million households currently without broadband, a significant improvement from the average 3 to 4 megabit service that the average subscriber receives.
Schools, hospitals and military bases would have access to 1 gigabit-per-second service.
The FCC says the auctions should allow the plan to pay for itself.
Some of the $8 billion in subsidies a year that go to extending telephone service to poor and rural areas would also be directed toward ensuring access to broadband internet.
Perhaps appropriately, the plan was posted online and garnered 335,000 Twitter followers and nearly 70,000 views on YouTube.