POLITICS
01/13/2015 06:20 pm ET Updated Jan 13, 2015

Obama To Push For Broadband Competition

WASHINGTON, Jan 13 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will call on Wednesday for an end to laws that thwart competition among broadband service providers and urge the Federal Communications Commission to help put a stop to them, the White House said on Tuesday.

"What we're calling on the FCC to do is to ensure that all states have a playing field that allows for a vibrant and competitive market for communications services," White House economic adviser Jeff Zients told reporters on a conference call.

The FCC is an independent agency.

Obama will raise the topic during a trip to Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Wednesday as he rolls out themes for his upcoming State of the Union address.

The White House said laws in 19 states had hurt broadband access. Obama will press for an end to regulations that "limit the range of options available to communities to spur expanded local broadband infrastructure, including ownership of networks," it said in a statement.

Zients said the administration wanted to make clear that it opposed state laws that prevent new entrants from entering the broadband market.

In addition, the Department of Agriculture will announce it is accepting applications for $40 million to $50 million in loans available for broadband, Zients said.

Obama will discuss steps in his State of the Union address to help give more Americans access to speedy and affordable broadband. He is traveling to Iowa to showcase a town where competition in the field is thriving. (Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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