A fast, reliable Internet connection is as essential to the modern economy as electricity or phone service, and over the last four years, the country has made tremendous progress investing in and delivering high-speed broadband to an unprecedented number of Americans. Today we are releasing a new White House report entitled Four Years of Broadband Growth that makes that case even clearer.
The results speak for themselves: since 2009, average broadband speeds have doubled, and the percentage of Americans with access to high-speed wireless broadband has more than quadrupled (from under 20% to over 80%). We were the first nation to deploy next-generation 4G/LTE wireless broadband on such a scale, which has in turn helped fuel the demand for the 500 million Internet-connected devices we now own.
This technology is doing more than just enriching lives; it is creating jobs. With the right incentives in place over the last four years, companies have invested over $250 billion in broadband infrastructure. The “App economy” that has sprung up in that same time is estimated to have created 500,000 jobs alone. And America is again leading the world in these innovations; six years ago, only 5 percent of the world’s phones ran an operating system that was Made in America – today, over eighty percent do.
But there is much more to be done to make sure we fully unleash the potential of this revolution in the way we communicate, learn, and work.
As the President said last week in Mooresville, NC, “in an age when the world’s information is a just click away, it demands that we bring our schools and libraries into the 21st century.” We have an obligation to wire our schools with better Internet than our coffee houses; our kids, and our economy, deserve better. That is why President Obama unveiled the ConnectED initiative to connect 99 percent of America’s students to high-speed broadband within five years.
We also have to bring more efficiency to our increasingly crowded airwaves. The number of wireless devices is exploding, and that means increasing demands on the spectrum upon which they all rely. The federal government helps manage that resource, and we know we can do a better job of unleashing innovation by ensuring more of it is shared, unlicensed for innovations like Wi-Fi, and better used by our departments and agencies. So today we are also announcing a Presidential Memorandum outlining a number of new spectrum policies — accompanied by $100 million in spending on federal research on spectrum.
President Obama is committed to seizing these historic opportunities to deliver faster, more reliable, and more affordable Internet – and with it, new opportunity – to all Americans. That is the context for our announcements this month, and in the months and years to come.