US to expand wireless broadband spectrum

The US government is calling for US wireless broadband spectrum to be nearly doubled in the next ten years to cope with the surge in wireless data traffic.

The US government is calling for US wireless broadband spectrum to be nearly doubled in the next ten years to cope with the surge in wireless data traffic.

Wireless broadband can serve as a platform for innovation and will have significant benefits for public safety, the Obama Administration believes.

A report unveiled by Vice-President Joe Biden concludes that the projected growth in data traffic can be achieved only by making more spectrum available for wireless use.

According to the report, wireless data traffic increased by more than 100% between 2009 and 2010, and is likely to increase 20-fold between 2010 and 2015.

The Economic Benefits of New Spectrum for Wireless Broadband report predicts a "spectrum crunch" or a shortage of broadband capacity unless the US increases its wireless spectrum.

"In response to this 'spectrum crunch', the Obama Administration has proposed making an additional 500 MHz of spectrum available for wireless broadband," the report said.

Biden said the rollout of the new spectrum would be used "to speed wireless communication, and to fulfil a promise made to first responders after 9/11 that they would have the technology they need to stay safe and do their jobs", according to the BBC.

Biden also announced the creation of a dedicated broadband network for law enforcement and emergency services to communicate with each other.

"Wireless broadband has a vital role to play in improving the ability of emergency personnel to communicate efficiently and to obtain necessary information quickly, including real-time videos, images, and other data," the report said.

The report calls for changes to the way spectrum is allocated, including voluntary incentive auctions, and allotting more spectrum for unlicensed uses to boost development of new wireless technology.

The auctions and the new network for emergency responders have been passed as part of a deal struck by Congress to extend a payroll tax holiday until the end of the year.

The measure will be partly paid for by the funds generated in the spectrum auctions. The White House has projected that voluntary incentive auctions, along with measures to enable more efficient spectrum management, could generate nearly $28bn in revenue over ten years.

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