The Obama administration is seeking to nearly double the wireless communications spectrum available for commercial use over the next 10 years, an effort that could greatly enhance the ability of consumers to send and receive video and data with smartphones and other hand-held devices.
President Obama will sign a presidential memorandum on Monday that aims to make available for auction some 500 megahertz of spectrum that is now controlled by the federal government and private companies, administration officials said Sunday. Most of that would be designated for commercial use in mobile broadband and similar applications, though aspects of the plan will require Congressional approval.
The effort embraces recommendations made by the Federal Communications Commission in its National Broadband Plan, which was released in March and encourages the expansion of high-speed wireless broadband services.
But some aspects could be opposed by television broadcast companies, which will be asked if they want to give up some of their spectrum for auction. Cable companies that have invested heavily in wired telecommunications networks could also lose from the new direction.
Proceeds from the auctions would go in part to finance the construction of improved communications systems for police, fire and other public safety agencies. Law enforcement agencies have proposed that parts of the newly available wireless spectrum be used for a dedicated broadband public safety network.