In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, President Obama discusses Egypt and high-speed Internet

Feb 10, 2011 3:12pm

ABC's Tahman Bradley, Jon Garcia and Sunlen Miller report:

President Obama told a crowd gathered at the University of Northern Michigan that his administration is monitoring the speculation that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may leave office at any moment and that the Unite States will do all it can to support an orderly transition to democracy.  He did not mention whether or not Mubarak will leave. 

"We are following today’s events in Egypt very closely and we’ll have more to say as this plays out," the president said.  "But what is absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold. It’s a moment of transformation that’s taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change."

The president noted the extraordinary number of Egyptians of all ages and walks of life that have taken to the streets, but he singled out the Egyptian youth. 

"It’s young people who’ve been at the forefront — a new generation, your generation who want their voices to be heard," he said.

Obama traveled to frigid Marquette (the temperature was negative 19 degrees with the wind-chill) today to sell his plan to make high-speed wireless Internet service available to at least 98 percent of Americans. 

Residents and businesses in rural Marquette are using super fast WiMAX Internet, and towns like Marquette, the president said, will create the jobs and businesses of tomorrow.

"For our families and businesses, high speed wireless service – that’s the next rail train station. It’s the next off ramp. It’s how we’ll spark new innovation, new investments, new jobs," Obama said. 

The president also wants to double wireless spectrum availability for mobile broadband, invest $3 billion in development of emerging wireless technologies, and develop a nationwide wireless network for public safety.  The White House says the president’s plan will cut the deficit by nearly 10 billion over the next decade. Republicans are likely unwilling to increase spending for the president’s wireless plan. 

Making the point that throughout history Americans have taken on bold infrastructure projects in order to expand the economy, the president told the crowd about how the early Americans who fanned out from the thirteen colonies to settle the continent built the transcontinental railroad.

"This is a new century.  And we cannot expect tomorrow’s economy to take root along yesterday’s infrastructure. We’ve got to think about the next new thing."

Emphasizing how critical it is that the nation get virtually all Americans high-speed Internet, President Obama pointed out to the crowd that 90 percent of homes in South Korean subscribe to high-speed broadband.  "In America, the nation that created the internet… only 65 percent of households here in America can say the same.  When it comes to high-speed internet, the lights are still off in one-third of our households," said Obama. "For millions of Americans, the railway hasn’t showed up yet."

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