President Obama signed a presidential memorandum on Monday that will facilitate the auctioning off of 500 megahertz of spectrum for commercial use, a move that will nearly double the amount of airwaves available.
The move comes on the coattails of mounting FCC concern that current levels of wireless broadband won’t be able to keep up with increasingly popular smartphones, which use broadband spectrum to send and receive video and data.
According to the New York Times, some aspects of the memorandum could cause discontent among television broadcast companies, who will be asked if they can auction off some of their broadband for access.
However, National Economic Council Director Lawrence H. Summers expressed optimism for the plan, saying it should catalyze economic growth through the auctions and investment in wireless technology.
Summers also said proceeds will go to improving communication for police, fire and other public safety agencies, and to improving projects such as high-speed light rail.
The broadband will be salvaged in part from government agencies, such as the Defense Department, who may not be using all of their allotted broadband, and also from broadcasters and other spectrum licensees who already have spectrum up for grabs and are willing to part with it for incentives.