February 12, 2011    /    by

President Obama Promotes Broadband: Northern Michigan WiMax Solution Showcased

Egyptian democracy and high-speed Internet are not topics that typically go together, but they were both highlighted during President Obama’s speech this week in Marquette, Michigan.

Egyptian democracy and high-speed Internet are not topics that typically go together, but they were both highlighted during President Obama’s speech this week in Marquette, Michigan.   But the President was not discussing the Google marketing executive who helped to start the Middle East protests with his social networking comments a few weeks back. This trip to Michigan was about jobs, high-speed Internet access and our new economy.

ABC News reported:

“Obama traveled to frigid Marquette (the temperature was negative 19 degrees with the wind-chill) today to sell his plan to make high-speed wireless Internet service available to at least 98 percent of Americans. 

Residents and businesses in rural Marquette are using super fast WiMAX Internet, and towns like Marquette, the president said, will create the jobs and businesses of tomorrow….

The president also wants to double wireless spectrum availability for mobile broadband, invest $3 billion in development of emerging wireless technologies, and develop a nationwide wireless network for public safety.  The White House says the president’s plan will cut the deficit by nearly 10 billion over the next decade. Republicans are likely unwilling to increase spending for the president’s wireless plan.”

Comparing investment in wireless technology with the investments that Americans made in railroads, the President made it clear that he wants to “connect every corner of America to the digital age.”  

As a Michigan resident, it was nice to hear that the President sees Michigan as innovative. I think it is true that Northern Michigan University’s implementation of WiMax is impressive, and I think their model is a national best practice. The benefits that local residents and businesses receive from this high-speed network in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP) could only have happened with public/ private partnerships and help from companies like Motorola and others.   

We have a long way to go when it comes to enabling all Americans with affordable, ubiquitous high-speed Internet. Nevertheless, it is nice to highlight a few success stories. What is working now? What can we learn from their experience? What would they do differently if they started over?

There is no doubt that this NMU success story needs to be told. What are your thoughts on what Northern Michigan has done with WiMax?