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$350 Billion May Be Needed to Extend Broadband

On Tuesday, an FCC task force reported that an estimated $350 billion USD will be needed to expand broadband usage in the United States, requiring subsidies and an investment in wireless and land-based infrastructure upgrades. The FCC's full report, slated to hit Congress in mid-February, will dictate its overall plan to increase usage in rural and urban areas, according to The Washington Post.

The FCC said that most Americans do have Internet access at home, with one-third having access to broadband but are not subscribed; another 4-percent don't have access to the Internet whatsoever. The FCC also claimed that those consumers who are subscribed to broadband are receiving slower speeds than what ISPs are advertising, lagging almost 50 to 80-percent.

The FCC also points out that consumers are downloading more online videos on smartphones, putting a strain on wireless networks as they fight to meet consumer demand. The report says that AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile are looking into scooping up more spectrum to support what the Washington Post called "sophisticated bandwidth hogging smartphones."

Unfortunately, the $7.2 billion set aside in President Barak Obama's economic stimulus package won't even scratch the surface of the massive upgrades needed for American Internet access. The FCC's "preliminary" estimate will range between $20 billion to $350 billion for both wireless and land-based access.