Skip to main content

President Cites 'Incomplete' Broadband Buildout in Speech

In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama said one of the nation's construction challenges was an "incomplete high-speed broadband network" that prevented some small businesses from reaching world markets.

That was one of only a couple of media references in the speech. The other appeared to be a shout-out for combating online piracy via a new unfair trade practices unit.

"It's not right when another country lets our movies, music, and software be pirated," he said. "Tonight, I'm announcing the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trading practices in countries like China. There will be more inspections to prevent counterfeit or unsafe goods from crossing our borders."

Opponents of the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) have argued that a better approach would be to treat digital piracy by offshore Web sites as an illegal import subject to stepped-up enforcement by the International Trade Commission.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, took some issue with the President's broadband comment. "The President said we have an incomplete high-speed broadband network, but his Federal Communications Commission is protecting its turf instead of joining us to free up airwaves to build the next generation communications networks," he said.

That was a reference to the FCC's defense of the ability to put conditions on an auction of reclaimed broadcast spectrum, conditions that the Republican version of incentive auction legislation backed by Upton preclude.