Obama seeks to kickstart fast broadband, STEM education

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Obama seeks to kickstart fast broadband, STEM education

$240m to go towards science, tech, engineering and maths.

The United States government has unveiled two separate initiatives to further improve affordable access to high speed broadband for Americans and boost education in science, engineering, technology and maths.

President Barack Obama today announced the private sector had committed $240 million towards encouraging students to pursue education in science, technology, engineering and math.

The pot of cash includes $150 million to encourage early-career scientists to stay with the discipline, and a $90 million campaign to expand STEM opportunities to underrepresented youth.

Obama also detailed plans to introduce a cross-government Broadband Opportunity Council (BOC) comprising 25 government agences and components.

Co-chaired by the secretaries of Commerce and Agriculture, the BOC will engage with industry and communities to support broadband deployment, and to remove regulatory obstacles impeding connectivity builds or competition.

Once the BOC has identified the steps each agency will take to advance the goals of supporting broadband competition, deployment and adoption, it will report back to president Barack Obama within 150 days and present specific regulatory actions or budget proposals.

The Obama administration also said this year's successful mobile spectrum auction - which raised a record US$44.9 billion (A$57 billion) - would keep the momentum going for the upcoming Federal Communications Commission incentive auction of 600MHz television broadband frequencies, slated for early next year.

Further radio frequency spectrum held by government agencies will be freed up, but the administration did not provide further details in which bands.

The US government stopped short of directly preventing US states from restricting local communities from deciding their own broadband network solutions, saying it would build on the FCC's landmark decision to promote such efforts and launch a revamped loan program to fund them.

President Barack Obama said the new efforts were part of the vision outlined in his 2015 State of the Union address, that among other things made it clear that "the fastest internet" was among the 21st century infrastructure which businesses need.

"I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platfor to keep reshaping our world," Obama said.

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