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US election promises universal internet access

The US presidential election promises to open up broadband access across the US following pledges by both candidates to give every citizen online access.

Democratic nominee Barack Obama takes on his Republican counterpart John McCain in today's election. Obama, who is leading in the polls as the last votes are counted, will become the first black president if successful.

Obama said he is setting a goal that every American has broadband access "no matter where they live, no matter how much money they have or do not have".

John McCain also wants to ensure all citizens are connected to the internet.

But providing 100% access to fast internet to every household will be difficult,technically and politically.

said Kurt Scherf, principle analyst at US technology research firm Parks Associates.

"We are such a big country that trying to build the infrastructure to do this, including using satellite and wireless, is enormously expensive. Also, we have major issues such as the credit crunch and in healthcare, and I do not think this will be a priority."

According Parks Associates 57%, or 65 million US households, have broadband access.This compares with 65%, or 16.46 million, of UK households with broadband access.

Both US presidential candidates say they recognise the importance of technology both socially and commercially. Both plan to help businesses use and develop technology.

Obama said if elected his government would "harness technology to confront the biggest challenges that America faces".

Obama said, if elected, the government would double the funding for basic research and development tax credit. There would be comprehensive immigration reform to attract skilled workers and help for small technology firms compete.

Similarly, McCain, a former chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said he wanted to encourage innovation, develop a skilled workforce and support fair trade.


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