Media News

White House launches plan to boost broadband

WASHINGTON, June 28 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to free up airways would nearly double the amount of commercial spectrum currently available for wireless devices, an administration official said on Monday.

The plan would make available 500 megahertz of federal and commercial spectrum over the next 10 years, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Freeing up spectrum would also create jobs by meeting the growing demand for mobile and fixed broadband, spur economic growth and raise funds to build an emergency network for public safety workers, the official said.

Some estimates suggest the next five years will see an increase in wireless data of between 20 to 45 times 2009 levels, reflecting the burgeoning use of smartphones, netbooks and other wireless devices.

Obama was scheduled to sign a presidential memorandum on the policy on Monday as part of a broader effort that also includes legislation to facilitate the transfer of spectrum, the official said.

White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers was scheduled to provide details on the policy in a midday speech to the New America Foundation.

“The president’s plan will nearly double the amount of commercial spectrum available to unleash the innovative potential of wireless broadband,” Summers said in remarks prepared for delivery.

“This initiative will catalyze private sector investment, contribute to economic growth, and help to create hundreds of thousands of jobs,” Summers said in excerpts made available in advance of the speech.

Under the policy, most of the freed-up spectrum would be auctioned for mobile broadband use, according to the administration official who spoke on background.

Revenues from the auction would provide funding to help build a nationwide mobile broadband network for public safety. (Reporting by JoAnne Allen)