Obama orders government agencies to free up wireless spectrum for the people

The President issued a memorandum today to expand the availability of spectrum and bolster America’s leadership in wireless innovation. He mandated that federal agencies free up a significant portion of wireless spectrum so that it can be used by individuals and businesses, and he also announced that the government will invest $100 million in research and development of spectrum-sharing technology.

The initiatives are in an effort to fuel American innovation and maintain the country’s position as a “global leader in wireless broadband technologies.”

“These new initiatives are the latest in a series of actions the administration has taken over the past four years to ensure American businesses and workers have the infrastructure they need to compete in the 21st-century economy,” said a fact sheet the administration issued this morning.

The President issued a memorandum in 2010 called “Unleashing the Wireless Broadband Revolution,” which required that 500 MHz of spectrum be made available for commercial use within the next 10 years. However, the percentage of American homes reached by high-speed broadband networks has more than quadrupled since 2009 and is now at 80 percent. Use of mobile devices has exploded in the past few years, putting greater strains on available spectrum and making the need to increase access more urgent.