USA: Making more frequencies available for broadband

Posted on February 11, 2011  /  1 Comments

I found it interesting that President Obama’s plans for broadband rest on wireless access. This meshes with our narrative re the path for our people to the Internet. Now come the details. Billions will be spent; but billions will be earned too.

“It’s about connecting every corner of America to the digital age,” the president said. “It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers can monitor weather across the state and markets across the globe. It’s about an entrepreneur on Main Street with a great idea she hopes to sell to the big city. It’s about every young person who no longer has to leave his hometown to seek new opportunity — because opportunity is right there at his or her fingertips.”

In his State of the Union address last month, Mr. Obama called for securing high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans within five years. On Thursday, the White House released details of how he would spend billions of dollars for the plan, which also includes a high-tech wireless public safety system that would tie cities and towns together in the event of a national emergency like the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Under Mr. Obama’s proposal, which the White House maintains would also raise enough revenue to cut the deficit by $9.6 billion over the next decade, the government would nearly double the wireless spectrum available for mobile broadband. That would be achieved in part through “voluntary incentive auctions” in which broadcasters, who license the spectrum through the Federal Communications Commission, would release some of it back to the government, which would in turn sell it to wireless companies.

The administration calculates that the auctions, coupled with more efficient government use of the spectrum, would raise $27.8 billion in revenue over the next decade. But that figure depends on whether broadcasters cooperate, and it is difficult to know whether the administration’s calculations are correct.

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