Obama directs agencies to move toward sharing spectrum

A presidential memo directs agencies to take new steps to share spectrum with commercial services

U.S. President Barack Obama has directed federal agencies to take new steps toward sharing their wireless spectrum with commercial operators, in an effort to meet growing demands for mobile data services.

Obama, in a memo published Friday, created a spectrum policy team to move agencies toward sharing spectrum, and he directed the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to publish a report detailing agency usage of spectrum that could be shared with commercial users.

Obama also directed the NTIA to create a pilot program to monitor spectrum use in real time in an effort to look for ways to more efficiently use spectrum, and he told agencies they must consider spectrum efficiency when buying new radio equipment.

While the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is looking to free up 500MHz of spectrum for commercial uses, more spectrum is needed, Obama said in the memo. With federal agencies holding a large amount of spectrum, sharing may be one way to get more spectrum in the hands of commercial users, the memo said.

"Where technically and economically feasible, sharing can and should be used to enhance efficiency among all users and expedite commercial access to additional spectrum bands, subject to adequate interference protection for federal users," the memo said.

Trade group CTIA and some lawmakers have been skeptical about spectrum sharing, with some critics questioning whether it is now technically feasible.

But mobile operators Spring Nextel and T-Mobile USA, along with broadband provider Comcast, praised Obama's memo.

"Every day, consumers, businesses, and government are relying more and more on wireless broadband services," Vonya McCann, Sprint's senior vice president of government affairs, said in a statement. "A steady supply of new spectrum, along with continued improvements in technology and innovation, are key to providing those services. The steps taken today lay the groundwork for tomorrow's broadband future."

In the memo, Obama directed the spectrum task force to look for ways to give agencies incentives to give up or share their spectrum. He also called on NTIA to publish a list of federal test facilities available to commercial operators for researching and testing spectrum sharing technologies.

A separate report tracking the nation's broadband growth noted that the U.S. currently has one of the largest blocks of licensed spectrum available for mobile broadband. The U.S. currently has 608MHz available, with another 55MHz in the pipeline, not including spectrum that may be given up by television stations.

Only Germany, with 615MHz currently available, has more than the U.S. of nine countries highlighted in the report, "Four Years of Broadband Growth," by the White House Office of Science and Technology and the National Economic Council. France has 555MHz currently available, Japan has 500, the U.K. has 353, and China has 227, the report said.

Representatives of the U.S. mobile industry argue the country needs more spectrum because of the rapid growth in mobile data use inside its borders.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Vonya McCannGovernment use of ITtelecommunicationregulationcomcastmobileBarack ObamaT-Mobile USAU.S. White House Office of Science and TechnologyU.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration4g3gSpring NextelctiaU.S. Federal Communications Commissiongovernment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?