If the White House's goal with its new government spectrum
proposal was to relieve broadband congestion, it actually contributed to it in
the short term via email reactions to the announcement that came pouring in
announcement early Friday.
The plan has a big role for the FCC, and acting chairwoman
Mignon Clyburn signaled she was ready for duty.
"I want to applaud President Obama for his leadership
on this critical issue for our nation's economic growth and global
competitiveness," she said. "Today's Presidential Memorandum will
enable us to meet the challenge of unleashing spectrum for commercial use while
also ensuring more efficient use of spectrum. Doing so means more opportunity
for all Americans -- greater access to jobs, health care, education, and more.
The FCC will continue to work closely with NTIA, other federal partners, and
all stakeholders to achieve the goals set forth by the President in this
"The President's action today confirms and strengthens
the efforts of NTIA, working with other federal agencies, to allocate 500
megahertz of spectrum by 2020 for wireless broadband services while balancing
the spectrum needs of federal agencies," said NTIA chief Larry Strickling.
"Spectrum is an important driver of economic growth and innovation. The
Presidential Memorandum will encourage greater collaboration between industry
and the government necessary to facilitate greater sharing of spectrum and
ensure that agencies will utilize spectrum as efficiently as possible."
The Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce
Committee overseeing communications said they were also pleased, and signaled
they would hold a hearing later this month on government spectrum issues while
praising private industry for its key role in the successes the president
touted in a report on broadband improvements under his administration.
"We welcome today's announcement that the White House
intends to focus more attention on the federal government's own use of
spectrum," Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said in a
statement. They are the chairs of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and
the Communications Subcommittee, respectively. "The nearly $80 billion a
year that private sector cable, wireline and wireless companies have invested
since 1996 spurred the remarkable broadband growth the administration also cataloged
today in its report. But as the Internet goes mobile, further growth will
require getting carriers more spectrum, an essential economic resource for the
21st century. Continuing its extensive work on spectrum reform and
opportunities for job growth, the Energy and Commerce Committee is planning a
hearing later this month to further its exploration of mutually beneficial
methods to help agencies fulfill their missions while freeing spectrum to drive
our country's prosperity."
Ranking House E&C member Henry Waxman added his support.
"I commend President Obama for issuing today's Presidential
Memorandum directing federal agencies to enhance the efficiency of their use of
spectrum and to eventually make more capacity available for consumer and
business uses," he said. "The initiatives outlined in the Memorandum
should generate ideas and solutions to provide federal users with better tools
to fulfill their missions while ensuring our nation's long-term spectrum needs
are met. I also appreciate the Obama Administration's continuing focus on
making more spectrum available for wireless broadband and technological
But Waxman suggested that legislation might still be needed
to get federal agencies to give up spectrum. "While I look forward to the
reports outlined in the Memorandum, I will continue to work with my colleagues
in Congress to explore whether there may be additional incentives to encourage
agencies to relinquish underutilized spectrum," he said.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a former wireless executive
himself, liked a lot of what he saw in the president's plan.
"I welcome the administration's initiatives and hope that
the process outlined in the Presidential memo will be a step in the right
direction," he said. "I have long called for a thorough inventory of
all public spectrum assets in order to gauge usage and improve efficiency, and
have been frustrated by how this debate has dragged out over the past four
years. Federal agencies should have the spectrum they need to protect the
public, but no one should be warehousing spectrum. I'm also glad to see the new
Spectrum Policy Team will come up with recommendations for incentives for
federal agencies, performance standards for receivers, and specific timelines
for assessing current and future spectrum needs."
Rick Boucher, honorary chair of the Internet Innovation
Alliance and former chairman of the House Communications Subcommittee, seemed
sure it was a step in the right direction, but suggested more was needed.
"For spectrum-strapped providers -- and the millions of customers they
serve -- today's announcement is a great step toward keeping up with
demand," he said. "But it's just that, a step. What is urgently
needed is a concerted effort to have large swaths of government-owned and
underutilized spectrum repurposed for commercial auction. Hopefully these new
initiatives set us on a path to get there."
Given that the president's initiative includes investing
$100 million in getting government to give up more spectrum for commercial
wireless companies, those companies liked what they heard.
"Sprint appreciates the steps that President Obama and his
Administration have taken today to help ensure that spectrum is used in the
most efficient and effective ways possible," said Vonya B. McCann, senior VP
of government affairs at Sprint. "Every day, consumers, businesses, and
government are relying more and more on wireless broadband services. A steady
supply of new spectrum, along with continued improvements in technology and
innovation, are key to providing those services. The steps taken today lay the
groundwork for tomorrow's broadband future. Sprint looks forward to
participating in that future, and welcomes the Administration's initiatives to
ensure that all wireless carriers have the opportunity to acquire critical
spectrum to meet our customers' needs."
John Legere, president of T-Mobile U.S., also applauded the
focus on mobile broadband and for what he called a "series of important
initiatives aimed at freeing up government spectrum to meet growing consumer
demand. We look forward to next steps and working with this Administration in
the roll out of today's initiatives."
"Today's announcement by the White House is
important not just for the initiatives it lays out, but for the clear policy
direction it sets," said AT&T senior executive VP Jim Cicconi.
"We commend the White House for recognizing the enormous progress in US
broadband deployment, wireless in particular, and for their commitment to meet
the need for more spectrum so these investments can continue. In
addition, the new White House report, 'Four Years of Broadband Growth,'
demonstrates factually the dramatic pace of broadband investment that is
helping transform America- a success story that is undeniable, compelling, and
continuing." Cicconi said AT&T has invested almost $80 billion on
broadband in the past four years. "And, with the promise of
supportive government policies that encourage the construction of broadband
infrastructure, we're prepared to continue investing over the next four
And the National Cable & Telecommunications Association
said: "The efficient and expanded use of spectrum for unlicensed services is
fundamental to the continued growth and innovation of our nation's wireless
ecosystem. Cable has invested heavily in unlicensed technologies, rapidly
deploying over 150,000 public WiFi hotspots throughout the country providing
Internet access to consumers when they are on the go. We appreciate the
President's direction to Federal agencies to work with commercial stakeholders
on spectrum sharing and other collaborative means of bringing additional
licensed and unlicensed spectrum to market.
"The President noted the exceptional progress our industry
has made in expanding the capability of broadband networks, saying that more
than 80 percent of U.S. homes now have access to next-generation, high-speed
broadband. As the nation's leading broadband provider, cable has injected
massive amounts of capital -- over $200 billion since 1996 -- to build a
powerful network that is available to 93 percent of U.S. homes. The
industry has also dedicated substantial resources to improving digital literacy
and broadband adoption through groundbreaking programs with non-profit partners
"We look forward to continuing our working
alongside the Administration on these critical issues."