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Washington Lauds President's Pledge on Wireless

Response was swift to the President's emphasis in the State of the Union speech on wireless broadband and Internet connectivity, including his pledge of high-speed wireless broadband to 98% of the country within five years.

"Faster, more reliable wireless Internet service will unlock opportunities for American businesses to compete across the country and around the world while also enabling our students to access educational resources that otherwise would be out of reach," said Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). "The National Broadband Plan provides a roadmap for increasing deployment of high-speed Internet access. The President's call tonight for expanded deployment of next generation wireless service is consistent with the Plan and crucial for our country's competitiveness in the future."

Not surprisingly, wireless company Sprint was all for the wireless deployment challenge.

"Sprint commends President Obama for his leadership in promoting nationwide access to advanced wireless services and working to ensure that our nation's first responders get what they have long needed and deserved, wireless interoperable public safety broadband services," said Sprint SVP Vonya McCann in a statement. "We look forward to working with President Obama, Congress, public safety, and the Federal Communications Commission to bring our nation's first responders the competitive wireless broadband services that consumers are enjoying today."

"The President said we will need to out-innovate, out-build, out-compete and out-educate other countries, and I couldn't agree more," said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) in response to the speech. "I'm glad the President focused on the need to invest in our infrastructure and encourage exports to create jobs. These investments are critical to American competitiveness and issues my Committee is hard at work on."

"This Republican Congress proudly embraces the ideals and opportunity of American entrepreneurship, and we will look to our core principles as we pursue policies that create jobs, reduce spending, and shrink the size and scope of the federal government in order to expand individual freedom," said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

An FCC spokesman was not available for comment on the wireless challenge, which will clearly be the FCC's province to oversee.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has made reclaiming spectrum for wireless broadband a priority for the commission, citing a looming spectrum crisis and the importance of broadband for education, emergency communications, remote health care and other "national purposes, all issues the President raised in saying the country needed to upgrade broadband infrastructure.