Barack Obama plans to free up 500MHz of spectrum for wireless broadband

There may be another spectrum auction on the horizon as US president Barack Obama on Monday outlined a plan to free up and release 500MHz of spectrum for wireless broadband.

In a memorandum released late yesterday, Obama said the government would collaborate with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make available a total of 500MHz of federal and non-federal spectrum over the next ten years, suitable for both mobile and fixed wireless broadband use, to be licensed and made available for shared access by commercial and Government users.

The FCC is to deliver a specific plan and timetable for freeing up this spectrum by October 1, 2010.

“This new era in global technology leadership will only happen if there is adequate spectrum available to support the forthcoming myriad of wireless devices, networks, and applications that can drive the new economy,” said Obama. “To do so, we can use our American ingenuity to wring abundance from scarcity, by finding ways to use spectrum more efficiently.  We can also unlock the value of otherwise underutilized spectrum and open new avenues for spectrum users to derive value through the development of advanced, situation-aware spectrum-sharing technologies.”

Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council, said that the President’s plan is to provide new tools and new incentives to free up spectrum, to redeploy the spectrum to high-value uses, and to use the auction proceeds to promote public safety and job-creating infrastructure investment.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski commented on the proposal: “The FCC’s National Broadband Plan laid out a strategy for unleashing 500Mhz of spectrum for wireless broadband; enabling incentive auctions and market-based solutions for driving spectrum to its highest, best and most efficient use; promoting flexible and unlicensed spectrum use; and generating revenue to fund a world-class mobile broadband network for our nation’s emergency responders.”

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