Regulation

Feds Drag on Freeing Mobile Spectrum

Two years after promising to free bandwidth for mobile communications, the federal government has done nothing

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WASHINGTON–The federal government is slinking away from a promise by President Obama to free up badly-needed radio spectrum for mobile users and the already over-taxed networks that serve them.

Just months after the publication of the National Broadband Plan in early 2010, the president issued a memorandum ordering the FCC and the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration to "make available a total of 500 MHz of Federal and nonfederal spectrum over the next 10 years" for mobile users.

The goal was to clear unused or underutilized spectrum the FCC could then auction off for use by an exploding mobile ecosystem.

Yet two years later, despite frequent assurances that progress is being made to head off a "spectrum crisis," almost no new frequencies have been offered for commercial use by either agency.