The United States leads the world in key areas of wireless infrastructure and innovation, including being the first country to have 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology networks at scale and to enable unlicensed use of white space spectrum. Meanwhile, demands on both licensed and unlicensed spectrum are increasing dramatically.
America faces a major challenge to ensure our wireless networks keep pace with the demand so they can support the critical economic, public safety, health care and other activities that increasingly rely on them. Meeting this challenge is essential to continuing U.S. leadership in technological innovation, growing our economy and maintaining our global competitiveness.
The Commission is actively working toward that goal. The FCC has worked to free up spectrum for wireless broadband use, removed regulatory and other barriers to the use of spectrum, and enabled more efficient use of spectrum in numerous innovative ways. The FCC has also pursued other initiatives to facilitate the expansion of our nation's wireless networks, the improvement of wireless broadband service and the inclusion of all Americans in the growing wireless broadband environment.
The 2010 National Broadband Plan introduced the idea of incentive auctions as a tool to help meet the nation's spectrum needs. Incentive auctions are a voluntary, market-based means of repurposing spectrum by encouraging licensees to voluntarily relinquish spectrum usage rights in exchange for a share of the proceeds from an auction of new licenses to use the repurposed spectrum. In February 2012, Congress authorized the Commission to conduct incentive auctions and directed that the FCC use this innovative tool for an incentive auction of broadcast television spectrum.
In September 2012, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in order to develop a rulemaking record that will enable the Commission to meet the challenges presented by the Spectrum Act's unique grant of authority. The broadcast television spectrum incentive auction will be the first such auction ever attempted anywhere in the world. It will be a groundbreaking event for the broadcast television, mobile wireless and technology sectors of our economy. The auction presents a significant financial opportunity for many broadcasters, and we expect it to enhance the ability of broadcasters who remain on the air to continue providing the public with diverse, local, free over-the-air television service. At the same time, the spectrum reclaimed through the incentive auction will promote economic growth and enhance America's global competitiveness by increasing the speed, capacity and ubiquity of mobile broadband services such as 4G LTE and Wi-Fi-like networks. In turn, this will accelerate the smartphone- and tablet-led mobile revolution, benefitting consumers and businesses throughout the country.
This proceeding is an important component of the Commission's commitment and efforts to make additional licensed and unlicensed spectrum available for broadband. The Commission values input through our comment process from all stakeholders, public and private, to ensure that the full benefit of incentive auctions is realized.