The Obama administration must be doing something right, considering the positive response to the plan to free up a 500 MHz of spectrum over the next decade.
It's not often that a proposal is lauded by representatives of the Free Press and CTIA-The Wireless Association. The two organizations are on different sides of the fence, to put it mildly. The Free Press statement, included in a MultiChannel News story, was attributed to policy counsel Chris Riley:
We are glad the White House is taking the necessary steps to help move a crucial piece of the National Broadband Plan. We encourage the administration to support the rest of the plan, which is now in jeopardy, by endorsing FCC Chairman Genachowski's Third Way proposal to restore the agency's broadband oversight authority.
Over at CTIA-The Wireless Association, Steve Largent also had praise. His quote was posted by InformationWeek:
By making spectrum available for auction, the Administration will enable the wireless industry to invest billions of dollars to purchase the licensed spectrum, and billions more to build and upgrade the networks that fuel our "virtuous cycle" of innovation. This announcement is a win for all Americans as it will drive innovation, investment and job creation, while at the same time providing much needed revenue not only for the US Treasury, but also for a nationwide interoperable Public Safety Network.
That might not be as impressive as getting Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent, on the same page, but it's reasonably close. It is important to recognize that the availability of spectrum is one of two looming structural challenges, along with device powering, that truly threaten the bright future of wireless.There are other obstacles, of course, but they are man made. These two are particularly scary because they ultimately deal with actual physical limits and limitations, not more pliable political, financial or legal issues.
Progress is being made on both fronts. The InformationWeek story mentions some things are being done to alleviate the bandwidth crunch, such as metered pricing approaches, femtocells (which enable offloading of traffic onto the Internet and other parallel networks) and improvement in cell tower technology. Powering is the subject of much attention as well, with significant gains in lithium-ion science, alternative sources and better onboard device power management.
Dumping a load of new spectrum on the market doesn't change anything that Einstein, Newton and the other bright folks discovered. But it is a positive step, as both the CTIA and Free Press acknowledge. This is particularly significant considering the resistance to the Broadband Plan and the FCC's weakened ability to see it through.