FCC Says Wireless Spectrum to Bring $120B in Value

With the U.S. facing a spectrum crunch, the Federal Communications Commission wants 500MHz of new spectrum for mobile broadband within the next decade.

Concerned about the current crunch on spectrum, the Federal Communications Commission claims the allocation of 500MHz of new spectrum for mobile broadband will stimulate $120 billion in near-term value and hundreds of billions of dollars for the U.S. economy over time.

Spectrum is leveraged by wireless communication devices, including smartphones and tablet computers. Data consumption on these mobile devices has seen a major rise in adoption; more people are using them to surf the Web, send text messages, play video games and shoot video.

Data use on these devices and applications has triggered a dearth in spectrum the FCC would like to see addressed sooner rather than later because it takes anywhere from six to 13 years to provision.

"The explosive growth in mobile communications is outpacing our ability to keep up," claimed FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

"If we don't act to update our spectrum policies for the 21st century, we're going to run into a wall-a spectrum crunch-that will stifle American innovation and economic growth and cost us the opportunity to lead the world in mobile communications."

To wit, the FCC's National Broadband Plan calls for 500MHz of new spectrum for mobile broadband within 10 years.

That includes 300MHz allocated for mobile use within five years. The FCC believes the country will be operating at a spectrum deficit of 300MHz over that time if this call to action goes unmet.

This proposal has the support of President Barack Obama, who in June called for 500MHz of new spectrum to be allocated for fixed and mobile broadband use.

The FCC outlines the financial potential of this allocated spectrum in its Oct. 21 whitepaper "Mobile Broadband: The Benefits of Additional Spectrum."

The paper details how the amount of mobile data consumed by Americans will soon exceed capacity of carriers' wireless networks and that allocating more spectrum will provide a huge financial boost to the mobile economy.

This includes the creation of new jobs and "breakthrough tools to improve education through mobile online learning, enhancing health care through potentially life-saving remote diagnostics, and promoting energy efficiency by supporting the smart grid."

The FCC March 16 unveiled its National Broadband Plan, which calls for a massive overhaul of the U.S. Internet infrastructure during the next decade and opening up the country's wireless spectrum to accommodate new devices.

The FCC's proposal aims to invest billions of dollars to give more Americans access to high-speed broadband service, including connecting 100 million U.S. households to 100M-bps broadband service by 2020.

Companies such as Google are in full support of the National Broadband Plan because it promises to provide a larger audience for its Web applications. More Internet-connected users means a greater potential application footprint for Google, which is currently testing ultra high-speed broadband networks.