The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jen Howard, Free Press, (202) 265-1490 x22 or (703) 517-6273

Obama Gives Broadband Stimulus the Green Light

United States One Step Closer to Internet for Everyone


Today, President Barack Obama 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

"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."

Free Press was created to give people a voice in the crucial decisions that shape our media. We believe that positive social change, racial justice and meaningful engagement in public life require equitable access to technology, diverse and independent ownership of media platforms, and journalism that holds leaders accountable and tells people what's actually happening in their communities.

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