Fact Sheet: Next Steps in Delivering Fast, Affordable Broadband

These are excerpts from a press release on broadband, posted to the White House website on March 23, 2015.

FACT SHEET: Next Steps in Delivering Fast, Affordable Broadband

In January 2015, “Broadband that Works,” was launched. It is a public-private effort to help more Americans, in more communities around the country, get access to fast and affordable broadband.  Progress to date towards achieving this goal includes:

  • Reaching the National Goal of Providing 98 Percent of Americans with Access to High-Speed, Mobile Broadband.
    In 2011, President Obama challenged the public and private sector to work together to expand wireless access and set the ambitious goal of providing 4th Generation (4G) mobile broadband to at least 98 percent of Americans.  Today, based on newly released data from the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), we are announcing that through significant private investment we have reached that goal — nearly two years ahead of schedule.  Policies that have helped drive progress toward this milestone, and will continue to promote robust investment in wireless broadband connectivity, include:
  • Initiating the Most Successful Mobile Spectrum Auction in American History.
    Setting in motion the highest-grossing auction of mobile spectrum in American history — raising more than $41 billion.
  • Continuing to Free Up Wireless Spectrum. 
    Concerted government efforts to successfully free up wireless spectrum previously held by government agencies have, to date, formally recommended or otherwise identified 335 Mhz of Federal and non-Federal spectrum for potential reallocation.
  • Expanding Access to Broadband in Rural and Underserved Areas.
    Over $7 billion of ARRA funding went to increasing broadband connectivity, including to under-served areas, which is the foundation of high-speed wireless service.  In all, these efforts have installed or upgraded over 174,000 miles of high-speed broadband infrastructure.  The White House also supported the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF), which has invested over $25 billion since 2008, to encourage investment in high-cost and rural broadband, both fixed and mobile.
  • Standing up the Broadband Opportunity Council.
  • Building on the FCC’s Landmark Decision to Promote Local Choice.
    In February 2015, the FCC independently decided to take action against two of the nineteen state laws that restrict communities from deciding what broadband solutions fit their needs.  This step forward helped unserved and under-served communities, many of whom have no way to stay economically competitive absent a municipal provider of broadband.
    As a result, communities in two states — Tennessee and North Carolina — were no longer held back from setting up municipal networks like successful examples in Chattanooga and Wilson, where those networks affordably deliver broadband speeds around 100 times the national average.
  • Continued Support to Communities & Competitors Expanding Broadband Offerings.
    Through the BroadbandUSA program, the Department of Commerce followed through on its promise to support more communities seeking to learn from the experts on how to increase broadband investment and competition — including through municipal broadband. Since January 2015, Commerce has provided ongoing one-on-one advice to communities across the U.S. including in Ohio, Kansas, Florida, California, and West Virginia; organized a regional summit in Jackson, Mississippi; and held a national webinar to introduce BroadbandUSA and present the new Guide to Public-Private Partnerships for Broadband Investment.
    The Department of Agriculture announced a total of $35 million in broadband infrastructure loans in Arkansas, New Mexico, and Iowa to deliver enhanced services to help attract and grow businesses, as well as to improve educational and health care services.  Time and again, studies show that affordable broadband offers increased economic opportunities in rural areas, which is why Rural Development is committed to delivering high-speed Internet service to these communities.