(By: Krista Strum) If you missed President Obama’s speech on the National Wireless Initiative and its execution plan, here are a few important highlights. First, he signaled support for legislation to allow the FCC to conduct voluntary incentive auctions to free up 500MHz worth of spectrum. What makes incentive auctions attractive, as proposed in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, is that current owners will get a share of revenue earned from auctioning off the spectrum. It’s a sweet deal that should encourage those “squatting” on idle or unused spectrum to participate.
Second, the plan includes measures to help consumers become more connected, directing $5 billion to constructing 4G networks in rural areas. The effort will also be backed by a $3 billion R&D budget to help guide the rollout. When all is said and done, it’s projected that at least 98 percent of American’s will have service. This is awesome considering more connectivity and information sharing makes for a smarter America.
The ‘icing on the cake’ is a $10.7 billion budget for a nationwide public safety network. So during national emergencies, emergency response workers and groups can communicate on a larger scale. Under the plan, “$3.2 billion would be devoted to reallocating the “D Block” (which is a band of spectrum that would be reserved and prioritized for public safety and not auctioned as called for under existing law); $7 billion to support the deployment of this network; and $500 million from the WIN Fund for R&D and technological development to tailor the network to meet public safety requirements.”
If you’re worried about this adding to the federal deficit, don’t! The spectrum auctions, “estimated to raise $27.8 billion,” will help offset these costs -- $9.6 billion of which will go toward reducing the deficit.
Overall, his plan is a win-win for all: “squatters” have good reason to unload their idle spectrum, consumers could enjoy more connectivity and, in times of national emergency we’ll be able to communicate better.
For more details about the plan, visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/02/10/president-obama-details-plan-win-future-through-expanded-wireless-access