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U.S. Considering Nationwide Internet Access Plan

You know what they say: the death of one public option is just an opportunity for the birth of a new one. Case in point, the U.S., federal government is expected to unveil a sweeping plan that would expand high-speed Internet access to everyone. The FCC is slated to present its proposal to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on February 13th. If it gets approval, it would represent a major legislative step for a country that's inexplicably fallen behind the global connectivity curve.

Believe it or not, the ol' U.S. of A. is the only industrialized nation without a nationwide Internet policy, and, as LiveScience reports, we've begun to lag even further behind the rest of the countries seated around the big kids' table. According to 2008 broadband access figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the U.S. ranked 15th among the organization's 30 member countries, after coming in 4th back in 2001. Unlike Finland, the U.S. reportedly won't go so far as to officially declare broadband access a basic human right. But at a time when the FCC says that more than 75-percent of employers accept only those applications submitted online, it's more or less an essential asset for anyone wanting frivolous things like a career.

It won't be easy -- and it certainly won't be cheap. The FCC is estimating that it would take about $350 billion to guarantee 100 megabits-per-second broadband access to all Americans. Despite all of our fiscal worries, President Obama seems committed to the plan, after earmarking $7.2 billion for broadband expansion in his stimulus package, and calling for America to "lead the world in broadband access and Internet penetration." Basic human right or not, Internet access has now become a capacity building prerequisite for individual and national advancement. If the U.S. wants to emerge from the financial crisis towards the front of the herd, we'd better get our act together, and get connected. [From: LiveScience]

Tags: broadband, connectivity, fcc, obama, politics, top