Although both the United States and Australia see nationwide broadband service as an important way to stimulate the economy and spur innovation, they are going about it in very different ways, CNET reports. Earlier this week, the Australian government announced a plan to build a fiber-optic communications network that will cost the government about 43 billion Australian dollars, or roughly $31 billion in U.S. money. The new network, which will be built by a yet-to-be-named, state-controlled company, will provide broadband speeds of 100 Mbps to about 90 percent of Australian homes, schools, and businesses by 2018. The other 10 percent will get broadband access via wireless technology. Only a small number of countries today offer speeds that high to consumers, including South Korea, Japan, France, and Germany. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the government is taking this aggressive step because he believes a fiber-optic network is essential to stimulate the ailing economy and boost Australia’s competitiveness with respect to other nations. U.S. President Barack Obama also believes that broadband is crucial to keeping America competitive in the world. But instead of controlling the deployment of new telecommunications infrastructure, the U.S. plans to give funding to the private sector, as well as local and state governments, to build infrastructure and invest in new services as they see fit. It will be interesting to see which approach proves to be most successful…

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