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Spectrum Crunch

Mobile broadband is growing rapidly, as more Americans use smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices to browse the web, use email, and download applications wirelessly.  The growth of wireless broadband represents a significant economic opportunity for the nation - but it also presents a challenge, as increased usage strains the capacity of the airwaves. 

Detailed analysis by Commission staff and industry experts reveals that, despite significant investment in networks and advances in wireless efficiency, demand for mobile broadband service is likely to outstrip spectrum capacity in the near-term.  Without action to address this spectrum crunch, service quality is likely to suffer and prices are likely to rise. 

To realize the economic opportunities of the wireless future, the National Broadband Plan recommended making additional spectrum available for wireless broadband use -- 500 megahertz (MHz) by 2020, including 300 MHz for mobile, flexible use by 2015.  In addition, the President directed in a June 28, 2010, Executive Memorandum that 500 MHz of new spectrum be made available for wireless broadband use.  This goal was reiterated on February 10, 2011 in the President's "Wireless Innovation and Infastructure Initiative."

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