President Barack Obama signed a memorandum titled ‘Unleashing the Wireless Broadband Revolution’ that collaborates with the Federal Communications Commission to making an additional 500MHz of government and commercial spectrum available mobile and fixed wireless broadband use in the next 10 years. This goal of getting 500MHz spectrum in the hands of wireless broadband providers over the next decade is a key part of the National Broadband Plan that the FCC presented to Congress earlier this year.
Recognizing the importance of spectrum for important activities including emergency communications and national security, the White House’s four-step plan first aims to identify and seek out underutilized spectrum, and encourage the use of spectrum-sharing technologies and thus use both Federal and commercial spectrum efficiently. The second step is provide new tools and incentives to free up spectrum. Third, the White House envisions most of this freed-up spectrum to be put to ‘high-value uses’, such as being auctioned off or provided for use as unlicensed spectrum. The fourth step takes on the use of the auction proceeds to support the creation of a nationwide, interoperable, broadband network for public safety, and promote other investments in public-safety and job creation infrastructure.
The memorandum calls for significant cross-government collaboration. The NTIA is directed to work with the FCC to produce a Plan and Timetable by October 1, 2010, and it must produce within 180 days thereafter an interim report to the National Economic Council (NEC), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to assess progress against the Plan and Timetable. The Executive Memo also directs OMB to provide “adequate funding, incentives and assistance” to agencies to implement the terms of the Executive Memo. Finally, it directs the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, and NASA to encourage R&D on spectrum-sharing technologies.