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Obama calls for more investment in broadband to catch up with Korea

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) ― U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday called for more investment in broadband lines and other infrastructure in the United States to catch up with South Korea and other countries.

“Our roads, our bridges, our sewer systems are all deteriorating,” Obama told a town hall meeting at Northern Virginia Community College, in Annandale, Virginia. “We don’t even have a serious high-speed rail infrastructure in this country. Our broadband lines are slower than places like South Korea.”

Obama’s speech was aimed at promoting his fiscal policy, focused on budget cuts while maintaining heavy investment in infrastructure and education. He announced plans last week to reduce the federal budget deficit by $4 trillion in 12 years with military and domestic spending cuts, tax increases for the wealthy and health care overhaul.

Congressional Republicans have proposed a deeper cut of $6 trillion over a decade and have refused to raise the government’s borrowing limit without commitments to deep cuts in long-term deficits.

The federal deficit is expected to surpass the $14.3 billion borrowing ceiling next month, with the deficit likely to reach $1.4 trillion for this year alone.

The deficit prompted Standard and Poor’s Monday to revise the outlook for the U.S. from stable to negative, apparently warning that it may lower the U.S. rating of Triple “AAA,” the highest rating, unless the budget problem is resolved.

“Are we going to go to other countries and suddenly realize that China and South Korea and all of Europe all have better infrastructure than we do?” Obama said. “And we think that businesses are going to come here and invest? Or do we think that at some point companies say that America’s got a second-rate infrastructure, and it costs us too much money because our trucks going over those potholes are getting messed up? And so that’s the choice that we’re going to have to make.”

The government of South Korea, one of the most densely wired countries in the world, recently revealed ambitious plans to invest heavily in an effort to lead the global mobile communications industry by 2015.

The plan calls for the development of a fourth-generation Long Term Evolution-Advanced system coupled with wireless broadband systems to offer the best mobile communication service.

It is the fourth time this year that Obama publicly discussed South Korea’s access to high-speed broadband Internet.

Obama told a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser in Boston, Massachusetts, last month, “We’re way behind countries like South Korea in broadband and wireless.”

In a message to Congress attached to his budget for the 2012 fiscal year, Obama said in February the U.S. “lags behind other nations when it comes to the infrastructure of the future,” noting that “only 63 percent of American households subscribe to high-speed, broadband Internet compared to 95 percent in South Korea and 77 percent in the Netherlands.”

Obama made similar remarks in his nationally televised State of the Union address in January.

“Our infrastructure used to be the best, but our lead has slipped,” he said at the time. “South Korean homes now have greater Internet access than we do.”
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