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from the L.A. Times

Obama pitches nationwide wireless network in Michigan

Obama President Obama nearly crossed into Canada on Thursday to pitch his plan for widespread wireless access.

Trekking to Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., he praised the campus as an example of things to come if high-speed wireless were made available to 98% of the U.S. population within five years.

The connectivity goal, laid out in his State of the Union address and dubbed the National Wireless Initiative, is key to the country’s competitiveness, he said.

“For our families and our businesses, high-speed wireless service, that’s the next train station; it’s the next offramp,” he said. “It’s how we’ll spark new innovation, new investment, new jobs.”

So far, companies such as AT&T and Verizon have zoned in on expanding their networks in major cities, overlooking out-of-the-way places like Marquette.

The university gives a new laptop to every incoming student, has Wi-Fi available throughout the campus and has teamed with nearby towns to upgrade signal towers.


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-- Tiffany Hsu [follow]

Photo: President Obama watches screens during a video teleconference as he participates in a demonstration of the WiMAX network in Marquette, Mich. Credit: Carolyn Kater / Associated Press

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