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Obama promises to stick to big broadband investment

BULLETIN: Announcement in spite of efforts to cut spending elsewhere to slash deficit

President Obama has insisted the US government will invest aggressively in rolling out broadband, in spite of major spending cuts in other areas aimed at cutting $4 trillion from the country's deficit over 12 years.

"I will not sacrifice the core investments that we need to grow and create jobs," said Obama, in a speech at George Washington University. The speech and the promised budgetary restrictions are likely to effect a political clash with the Republicans over fiscal policy.

The emphasis on broadband is mirrored in the UK, where the government insists it is vital in helping businesses and creating jobs. Yesterday, Japanese supplier Fujitsu made a surprise entry to the UK market by announcing it would build a £1.5 billion network if it raises £500 million of public funding.

In the US, Obama yesterday vowed the government will "invest in new roads and airports and broadband access", alongside medical research, clean energy technology and education.

In his State of the Union speech three months ago, Obama appeared to refer to efforts at the US Federal Communications Commission to free up wireless spectrum for mobile broadband. "Our infrastructure used to be the best, but our lead has slipped," he said.

Within five years, broadband providers, with the help of the government, would deploy next generation mobile broadband to 98 percent of residents, he said. Farmers in rural areas would be able to sell their crops all over the world, and firefighters would be able to download the layouts of burning buildings.

In February, Obama also detailed plans to roll out 4G broadband to 98 percent of US residents within five years.

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