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Obama to push for cheaper, speedier broadband in the US

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President Obama today outlined an upcoming executive action to increase US broadband speeds and reduce its cost, something he intends to announce at a speech tomorrow in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and again in his sixth State of the Union address next week.

In order to do that, The White House today said that it plans to file a letter with the Federal Communications Commission to end restrictions in 19 states that it believes are holding back broadband advances. It also plans to push a grants and loans program for rural carriers to supply subsidized broadband, as well as form a "Broadband Opportunity Council" whose job it will be to "promote greater coordination" among various government organizations.

"That little circle thing that goes round and around. It's really aggravating."

In a preview of the initiative, Obama pointed to Cedar Falls as a prime example of the inequality of broadband service among US cities when compared to international counterparts. It ranks on par with download speeds in cities like Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Paris. By comparison, he said, cities like Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco come up short.

"You know what it feels like when you don't have a good internet connection. Everything is buffering, you're trying to download a video, you got that little circle thing that goes round and around. It's really aggravating," Obama said. "There are real world consequences to this, and it makes us less economically competitive."

Internet download speeds (White House)

(Credit: WhiteHouse.gov)

The topic is one of several about the security and availability of the internet that Obama is expected to discuss further in the State of the Union address. Yesterday the president said he wants the federal government to do more to safeguard data, both from attackers and advertisers. He's also expected to weigh in once again on changes to net neutrality, which the FCC is voting on next month.