by Mielle Sullivan, Janus Networks
On Thursday The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved $6 Billion of Obama’s economic stimulus package for clean energy and broadband expansion. Called The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the bill intends to increase jobs by providing funding to computerize the health care system, upgrade education facilities, lay down smart grid technology and deploy broadband access tounserved and underserved areas.
Proponents argued the bill was badly needed to improve efficiency and increase US technological competitiveness. The US remains 15th in the world for broadband adoption. Obama has also said upgrading the health care system “won’t just save jobs, it will save lives” and “To help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools.”
Conservatives argued that the bill was pressed through to quickly, is too costly and leaves terms like “unserved” and “underserved” undefined. The FCC will have 90 days to define those terms after a broadband access map of the US has been drawn.
The tech industry highly anticipated the passage of the bill as a boon to the whole industry, not just companies that lay cable or make computer systems. Manufacturers of smart meters, semiconductors, sensors even software makers all stand to benefit from upgrading so many systems. A new layer of “metadata” will have to be added into electrical grids, smart waterways and smart highways. All that data will have to be transmitted, stored and processed.
Despite the billions allocated, some in the technology sector believe the bill does not go far enough, particularly in expanding broadband access. Furthermore, meaningful results in infrastructure changes always take years, and broadband will be no exception.
Technology contractors are already celebrating a chance to earn big grants, which hopefully will translate into some of the millions of jobs Obama has promised.