Obama puts focus on technology, promises more wireless access
President Obama said in his State of the Union speech Tuesday that technology innovation will be the nation's "Sputnik moment" and that the economy's priorities will largely rest on industries such as clean energy and high-tech.
In his nationally televised address, Obama cited companies such as Google and Facebook as examples of firms that blossomed thanks to free markets. But he noted that taxpayer funds had "planted the seeds for the Internet" and pointed out that government programs had led to the creations of computer microchips and global positioning systems.
As such, Obama said that the economy's future rests on doubling commitments to the nation's infrastructure. He singled out the importance of expanding wireless Internet networks, which he said should cover 98 percent of Americans within five years.
"This isn't just about a faster Internet and fewer dropped calls," he said. "It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age."
The remarks on wireless Internet networks support proposals by the Federal Communications Commission to create more robust nationwide service to handle the flood of smart phones and tablets expected to reach consumers' hands.
The FCC hopes to pursuade broadcasters to auction television airwaves and backs a plan by satellite operator LightSpeed that would sell wireless broadband services wholesale to cell phone makers and new entrants into the wireless industry.
Obama also said he would push for investments in alternative fuels, and proposed funding that effort by eliminating billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies currently given to oil companies. He also gave a nod to other tech industry priorities: increasing exports, emphasizing science and math education, and keeping highly skilled immigrants in this country.
The tech industry responded positively to the speech.
“Reducing the deficit, supporting free trade, attracting the best and brightest and investing in infrastructure and education are key to our recovery, and we support the President’s focus on these issues as part of his innovation-driven agenda," said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association.
Sprint Nextel lauded Obama's support of wireless expansion, including a network for emergency first responders.
| January 25, 2011; 10:58 PM ET
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