Obama Gives Broadband Stimulus the Green Light

United States One Step Closer to Internet for Everyone
Contact Info: 
Jen Howard, Free Press, (202) 265-1490 x22

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama has signed into law the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, unleashing $7.2 billion to expand broadband access and adoption. The law attaches open Internet conditions to broadband funds and directs the Federal Communications Commission to produce a national broadband plan.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration will distribute the majority of the funds, $4.35 billion, through a temporary grant program. NTIA broadband projects must be completed within two years of the award, provide the greatest broadband speed possible, and adhere to Internet nondiscrimination and openness principles established by the FCC. The law also funds programs that promote increased broadband adoption in low-income communities.

Leaders in Washington say that the broadband stimulus package is only one part of a larger Internet agenda. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the new chair of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, noted in a recent op-ed that "much more remains to be done. We need to look at every available tool for providing broadband access to all Americans." And yesterday, Blair Levin, a telecom adviser to President Obama, said that "despite new federal money, the amount is but a fraction of what is needed."

Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, made the following statement:

"The broadband stimulus package is a critical first step toward transforming our digital dirt roads into 21st-century superhighways. These funds will help boost broadband availability in the rural and underserved areas that need it the most -- providing millions of people with good jobs, better education and full participation in our democracy.

"We're pleased that this law requires taxpayer-funded networks to adhere to Net Neutrality principles. But these conditions only apply to the broadband lines built with stimulus money. We need Net Neutrality laws to ensure that all networks are open and free from discrimination.

"The broadband problem didn't happen overnight and neither will the solution. We look forward to working with Congress and the Obama administration to quickly and aggressively move forward with a national broadband strategy that will connect this country and restore our global competitiveness."

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