In this era of smart phones and wireless communications, the country faces a shortage of needed spectrum for wireless, communications growing as much as 250 percent a year.
President Obama today signed a presidential memorandum approving a new effort to sell off government-owned and commercial spectrum to be used to upgrade communications nationwide.
“The motivation for all of this is the threat of a spectrum crunch with a massive increase in the use of wireless data,” an administration official said, noting that with the increase in demand – from smartphones, netbooks and all the other wireless devices — will grow between 20 and 45 times 2009 levels in the next five years.
The presidential memorandum commits the federal government to a sustained effort to make available 500 MHz of federal and commercial spectrum over the next 10 years.
The White House says they expect that this will create “hundreds of thousands of jobs" with revenue potential that could reach, “in the tens of billions of dollars.”
The administration’s broader effort is supposed to almost double the amount of spectrum available for wireless broadband, especially for new forms of “machine-to-machine” communications and the proliferation of wireless connectivity to more rural areas of the country.
“It is win-win-win,” an administration official said, noting that it can help the current wireless holders, where it will offer additional resources but also help bring new wireless users in.
When the government sells off government-owned spectrum, the revenues can be considerable and would be steered toward next generation air traffic control, high speed rail and smart grid development.
The White House official claims, “The majority of the freed-up spectrum would be auctioned for mobile broadband and other high-value uses. New spectrum access innovations also will allow for sharing of spectrum between the government and private sector users. In addition, there will be new opportunities for innovation through free, unlicensed use of spectrum by technology startups, individual users and others.”
So what does this mean for you – the wireless consumer?
Opening up the spectrum will lead to better quality service for consumers, the White House says, and a more efficient spectrum that, they hope, will lower prices and lead to increased access in rural areas.
The White House says they will be working with members of Congress to get legislation on these ideas on the Hill, but it did not endorse any bills already proposed yet.
- Ann Compton, Yunji de Nies and Sunlen Miller