America Gets the Hook Up - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

Obama speaks to Northern Michigan University about National Wireless Initiative (Source: White House)

In his January state of the union address President Obama said that “This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.” He was explaining that our country is losing the international battle on the innovation front. But just like America landed on the moon and surpassed the Soviets, who were first to launch a satellite into space in 1957, Obama is hoping that this country will again propel forward by leaps and bounds by taking winning steps towards wireless innovation.

The president made the first of many leaps last Thursday when he spoke at the Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan where he announced details of the Whitehouse’s plans to expand wireless coverage to 98% of Americans with access to 4G high-speed wireless.

According to the president, 90% of homes in South Korea subscribe to high-speed broadband (defined by the Federal Communications Commission as a minimum download speed of 4 megabits per second and upload speeds of 1 mbps), yet only 65 percent of households here in America, where the internet was created, can say the same. This is the case because our broadband infrastructure has fallen behind as wireless providers do not expand into rural areas unless it is profitable for them. Upgrading will require freeing up space on the broadband spectrum, which is currently too constrained for future innovation.

“We’re going to have to out-hustle the rest of the world,” he said. “That means investing in cutting-edge research and technology…this is a new century, and we can’t expect tomorrow’s economy to take root using yesterday’s infrastructure.”

The National Wireless Initiative plan will catalyze private investments into the system by auctioning off the pieces of the government and commercial spectrum and free up 500 Megahertz of the airwaves. The White House claims that doing this will double the wireless spectrum and will reduce the deficit by $9.6 billion.

The plan will also create a $3 billion Wireless Innovation Fund to spur research and development of emerging wireless technologies and applications. In addition, Obama committed $10.7 billion toward developing a nationwide, interoperable wireless network for public safety.

As a result, the new network will help police officers access crime databases in their cars, allow firefighters to download blueprints on the way to a burning building, and let public works officials monitor pumps and equipment remotely thereby saving money in the long run.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has already taken steps to make good on that commitment. The agency has identified 115 MHz of federal spectrum that can be freed up as part of a “fast track” process for exclusive or shared use. They’ve also selected another 95 MHz of valuable spectrum for immediate evaluation, and has a plan in place to evaluate other federal spectrum bands that can be used more efficiently.

For more information on wireless and broadband technology:

Where the Jobs Are: Information Technology

Blacks Continue to Climb on Broadband Bandwagon

Making the Best of Your Wireless Options

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.