The value of ubiquitous broadband: Levin proposes U.S. fund; Slim slaps Aussie NBN

How much should a government invest in a national broadband network? Blair Levin, who had a heavy hand in the development of the FCC's national broadband plan, thinks $10 billion is about right. In a paper the former FCC honcho wrote for his new bosses at the Aspen Institute, Levin argued that "the funds be provided only to areas where, without such funding, there is no private sector case to provide broadband; and that funds are provided to one provider per area."

Levin's proposal, which would run over 10 years, is a good deal cheaper than Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN). That plan calls for spending $42 billion and, no matter what currency is being discussed, that is "too much money," according to Carlos Slim, a Mexico telco tycoon who is said to be the world's richest man and whose own personal wealth could probably pay for the network with change left over.

"It's not necessary to invest so much money because technology is changing all the time," Slim said during a conference in Sydney, Australia. He said the plan to spend $7,000 per connected home was excessive and that the plan's reliance on fiber was silly. "You need to have a multi-platform of everything; mobile, landline, fiber, cable and copper."

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