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National wireless initiative unveiled by the President

President Obama travelled to Michigan today to announce a major new wireless initiative with the goal to bring 4G wireless internet access to 98 percent of the country within five years, build a national public safety broadband network and promote wireless innovation through increased research and development.

While all of these goals are laudable, for the real estate industry, the meat of today’s announcement is in the boost to 4G wireless availability and the freeing up of airwaves known as spectrum for use by wireless internet devices.

4G wireless technology promises broadband speeds that are more than 10 times faster than current high speed wireless technology. While the 4G rollout currently underway by carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are underway, many rural areas are not enjoying the same benefits as those in urban areas.

The President’s plan will support a one- time investment of $5 billion to build out 4G networks in rural areas. The plan also promotes changes to the Universal Service Fund, a decades old program originally used to promote wireline phone service in rural areas. Reforms to the fund will shift future expenditures to broadband services.

Another interesting component of this plan is a proposal to spend $3 billion in a “Wireless Innovation Fund” which will support research, testing and development in wireless technologies with the aim to build the next generation of wireless technologies.

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Agent Genius readers well understand the importance of broadband and wireless to efficiently running their real estate businesses. I often hear REALTORs stories of poor broadband access in rural areas. What are your thoughts about this new initiative? Worthy investment or needless government spending?

Written By

Melanie is the Senior Technology Policy Representative at the National Association of Realtors. That means she lobbies Congress and Federal Agencies on technology policy issues of importance to the real estate industry. In her pre-NAR life Melanie has been a practicing attorney and a software start-up executive. Like any native Californian, Melanie loves good wine and bountiful farmers markets.

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Dean Ouellette

    February 10, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    and in five years 4g will be obsolete

  2. Benn Rosales

    February 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    It’s brilliant and overdue. How do you grow the online economy? Provide more access. Let’s hope when those folks in rural Indiana order new shoes from Zappos that Fedex actually delivers there 🙂 Again, another improvement to the economy. It’s a cheap proposition when you consider the possibility of growth and commerce. Can we order organic foods directly from farmers now? Another possibility. OR I wonder how much Zillow says that farm next door is worth?

  3. Matthew Hardy

    February 10, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Ubiquitous broadband means one thing: the death of syncing.

    From something I wrote years ago:

    “Your router can allow an external connection from say, you out in the field, directly routed to a specific computer on your internal network. This is a powerful feature, is very easy to do and is often referred to as port mapping. It cuts out a middle man and a middle step. You don’t need to pay for an additional monthly service to store your data on a vendor’s servers and you don’t need to perform any syncing – you’re accessing your data live and in real-time.

    Real-time access beats syncing hands-down. Moving data around between multiple devices through syncing is inherently complex and is typically restricted to simple, personal datasets and not larger-scale business datasets. Syncing is an answer to slow, non-existent or too-expensive connectivity. Real-time access is simpler and facilitated by fast, ubiquitous connectivity.”

    One of the new products that takes advantage of this beautifully is ‘FileMaker Go’ for iOS devices iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

  4. Al Lorenz

    February 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    What a waste of money. 4G will be obsolete in 5 years, or less! If the service can’t be delivered profitably to those areas, just wait, something will come soon. If it can’t, don’t bring it. I don’t want to pay the subsidies and I live in a rural area!

  5. SteveBeam

    February 11, 2011 at 12:48 am

    Some taxpayers may not like it especially those living in cities with great service now but I’m for it. I live in Denver and work the ranch and horse property East of town where there is no signal in places and very limited in most so I know it will benefit a lot of people. It would be so nice to be out hiking and know that you have the ability to call for help when needed too.

  6. Steve Norris

    February 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Echoing Al – I live and work in a predominately rural area..when it can be done profitably it will be; until then let’s not print/borrow more “money” for yet another government boondoggle.

  7. Dave Kinkade

    February 11, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I love technology more than most people but this just doesn’t seem right. Government can’t do much of anything without screwing it up and driving up costs. I don’t care what they say, just look at the results of any project they’ve announced over the last several years…all way underestimated in cost and overestimated in benefit. I don’t care if it is a Republican or a Democrat…government should work on reducing its footprint. Technology will produce what the market demands.

  8. Ruthmarie Hicks

    February 13, 2011 at 1:32 am

    The message has been clear for sometime….America is BEHIND as far as internet access and general infrastructure. There is NO TIME to wait for something to become “profitable” for the private sector. In rural areas that will never, ever happen. We are so obsessed with waiting for the private sector to make things cost-effective that we are getting in our own way and will fall further and further behind in this century.

    Good for President Obama..This is an example of how the public sector is needed to create infrastructure that is not profitable for the private sector to do. People don’t realize how much the private sector depends on public sector spending. As someone who did biomedical research for years, I do get it. So many basic discoveries that were totally unprofitable for private financing got their start in the public sector. That financing gave rise to the entire biotech industry – which would not exist but for that government “seed money” that started in the 1940s and continued into the 1980s .

    • Dave Kinkade

      February 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm

      Ruthmarie, The government doesn’t have any money. Good for Obama?!? His government is writing hot checks all over town and our kids are going to have to pay for his largesse. We cannot afford any more government programs.

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