Obama Calls for Boost in Wireless Broadband

President orders 500 megahertz of spectrum to be made available over the next 10 years in effort to avoid looming bandwidth crunch.

In a move to free up another 500 MHz of spectrum for wireless data services, President Obama ordered the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to free up federal and nonfederal spectrum.

Expanded wireless broadband access will trigger the creation of innovative new businesses, provide cost-effective connections in rural areas, increase productivity, improve public safety, and allow for the development of mobile telemedicine, tele-work, distance learning, and other new applications that will transform Americans lives, Obama said in a signed presidential directive.

The presidents order would double the airwaves available for wireless devices over the next 10 years to 500 MHz of spectrum. The availability of more wireless spectrum will allow faster delivery of data and video onto smart phones and other next-generation devices and largely address what many have described as a looming bandwidth crunch.

The telecommunications industry will be able to acquire some of this public spectrum through government auction. The FCC, for example, has already promised to make 300 MHz available for auction within the next five years. Some of the revenues from these auctions will be used to create a nationwide public safety network to keep communications running in the event of an emergency, which was a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

The initiatives endorsed today will spur economic growth, promote private investment and drive U.S. global leadership in broadband innovation, said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Spectrum is the oxygen of wireless, and the future of our mobile economy depends on spectrum recovery and smart spectrum policies.

According to the Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA), an international industry trade group representing the wireless industry, the directive will dramatically expand the nations broadband capacity, opening the door to new innovations.

By making spectrum available for auction, the administration will enable the wireless industry to invest billions of dollars to purchase the licensed spectrum, and billions more to build and upgrade the networks that fuel our virtuous cycle of innovation, said CTIA CEO Steve Largent.

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