Plugged In

Obama Calls for Spending on WiFi

President Obama said Thursday that the nation needs to expand its wireless Internet access for all Americans in order to help hasten the economic recovery. “This isn’t just about…being able to find a friend on Facebook,” he said, stressing how a digitally connected country could help foster innovation. The White House’s plan includes a wireless public safety system for cities and towns in the event of a national emergency. It also features revenue-raising components that would generate $27.8 billion over the next decade—and hopefully cut the deficit by $9.6 billion. But it won’t come cheap: Obama is asking Congress to make a one-time $5 billion investment to bring wireless access to rural areas, and he is proposing to spend $3 billion on research and development of new wireless technologies.