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Obama's Chief Scientist Pushes National Broadband Plan

By Network World

November 2, 2010

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John Holdren, the White House's top science and technology adviser, says the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) national broadband plan would lead to an improvement in the productivity of science and engineering enterprises and boost the populations and productivity levels of rural and regional areas. Holdren says the benefits could be worth billions of dollars. "But when it comes to budgets, this is a delicate matter because we have very difficult financial constraints and I don't want to endorse a particular number or version of the plan," he says.

In March, the FCC released a plan to set aside $15.5 billion over 20 years from the Universal Service Fund (USF) for broadband deployment. The USF has been used to subsidize traditional telephone service.

Holdren's comments follow a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which said that implementing the plan would be a challenge and require actions by government at all levels and by the private sector, and would also require obtaining sufficient funding. Holdren says it is clear the private sector must do a lot of the work.

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