President Barack Obama calls for 4G wireless access to majority of Americans by 2016

In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama said he wanted 98 percent of Americans to have access to a high-speed Internet connection within five years.

“Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans,” Obama said in his nationally televised address.

The president also used the State of the Union to tell parents it was their job to turn off the TV set and make sure their kids get their homework done and for the United States to do a better job of deploying broadband, saying that “South Korean homes now have greater Internet access than we do.”

Calling his proposal the National Wireless Initiative, the president said the broadband push is about “a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.”

The FCC has targeted TV broadcast spectrum as a source to free up needed spectrum for the operation of wireless broadband services. The commission has proposed voluntary auctions that would allow broadcasters to share in the profits from the auctioning of their spectrum for broadband uses.