Today, in the midst of extending a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits for struggling Americans, lawmakers passed a historic piece of spectrum legislation authorizing the FCC to conduct voluntary incentive auctions, an initiative that will ultimately help spur private investment in mobile broadband infrastructure and create U.S. Jobs. Congress took an important first step toward reallocating more spectrum for mobile broadband to combat a looming capacity crunch exacerbated by exploding consumer demand. They could not have acted a moment too soon.
On the one hand, more than one-third of adults own a smartphone and for the first time in history there are more mobile subscriptions that people in the United States. Additionally, the number of adults who own a tablet or e-reader skyrocketed from 18% to 29% between mid-December and January. From mobile payments to smart grid technologies, digital education initiatives to mobile health applications, wireless is a powerful engine of economic growth and American innovation.
On the other hand, wireless data traffic is expected to grow 100 times faster than mobile voice traffic over the next ten years and an estimated 50 billion devices will be connected worldwide in the same amount of time. Wireless networks in North America are already running at 80% of capacity and the FCC predicts that we will have a spectrum deficiency by 2013.
The important action today on Capitol Hill to enact legislation aimed at repurposing spectrum for wireless rightly acknowledges the ever-increasing benefits of mobile broadband and it has the added advantage of generating revenue for American taxpayers. Mobile Future stands ready to assist the FCC as it begins its work to repurpose spectrum as quickly as possible, while ensuring that all 300 million U.S. wireless consumers have the opportunity to benefit from these additional spectrum resources and continued mobile innovation.