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Silicon Valley Looking Forward To Obama Plan To Boost Broadband

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A teacher helps a student at a computer lab. (CBS)

SAN JOSE (KCBS/AP) – President Barack Obama’s plan to nearly double the wireless spectrum available for mobile broadband and deliver high speed Internet to nearly every American within five years comes as nations in Asia have surged ahead, said one technology analyst.

Countries such as Japan, Korea and China offer download speeds of 100 megabits. Ben Bajarin, an analyst with Silicon Valley consulting firm Creative Strategies, said the growth of the wireless industry here will be crippled if U.S. networks remain stalled at five or 10 megabit capacities.

“Broadband is essential. Especially when we start getting into things like more rich media. We do want to push the boundaries on what we can do in streaming video content and delivering rich media whether it be videos or movies or TV shows to all sorts of devices,” he said.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

Saying tomorrow’s economy can’t thrive on yesterday’s infrastructure, President Barack Obama on Thursday promoted a five-year plan to lure new industries and jobs to the U.S. by expanding high-speed wireless to 98 percent of the country.

“It’s just like that movie, ‘Field of Dreams:’ If we build it, they will come,” he said Northern Michigan University in Marquette, a wired campus where students telecommute and a town where many small businesses owe their success to high-speed Internet access.

“For our families and businesses, high-speed wireless is the next train station, the next off-ramp, Obama said. “It’s how we’ll spark new innovation, new investments and new jobs,” Obama said.

Obama’s goal is lofty, considering that such technology is only now being built in major cities by AT&T, Verizon and others. It also will cost billions of dollars that Republicans are unlikely to want to spend.

Bajarin said the uncertainty surrounding so-called net neutrality and broadband service providers ability to regulate data traffic on their networks made developments in wireless that much more important.

“We don’t want to be in a position where the carriers are throttling back our broadband. Wi-Fi presents a good complement to that,” he said.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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