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Broadband Has a Friend in Chopra

BY Nancy Scola | Sunday, April 19 2009

The reviews are in, and Aneesh Chopra is a hit! In comments being emailed around by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the apparent perch for the new U.S. CTO, venture capitalist extraordinaire John Doerr calls it "an inspired appointment." Intel's Craig Barrett praises Chopra as "one of technology’s leading lights." And Google's Eric Schmidt calls him "the perfect choice for the Nation's first CTO." They seem pleased.

Micah has covered what Chopra's appointment might spell for the future of open government. As much as Chopra might be a natural ally for CIO Vivek Kundra, he might prove to be just as a good a friend to another Obama appointee, FCC Chair appointee Julius Genachowski. When he served as Secretary of Technology for the state of Virginia, Chopra was known for his energetic cheerleading around the rollout of broadband to the state's hardest to reach nooks and crannies. That story is detailed here, in a piece by a promising young(ish) writer. Under Mark Warner and then Tim Kaine, Virginia went to great lengths to work alongside telecom interests in solving the broadband rollout conundrum, making the math work by doing things like using the state's credit rating to get cheap money to providers to do buildout work, or lending state assets like water towers to lower the capital investment needed to get the ball rolling in underserved areas of the state. It's a somewhat conciliatory approach to providers that might rankle with broadband advocates, but it's probably fair to call it perfectly Obaman. And it's probably safe to expect Chopra to keep a sharp focus on the end result of getting fiber in the ground or wireless in the sky.

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