As we increasingly rely on mobile connectivity, demand for wireless spectrum capacity is growing daily. With limited spectrum in use to expand wireless capacity, policymakers must move quickly and responsibly to make more spectrum available to keep pace with the demands of consumers and our economy and enable the next wave of mobile innovation and economic growth.
Why We Care
- Consumers rely on spectrum to power mobile broadband. Today, more than half of U.S. consumers have a smartphone and many of us are adding tablets, as well. With wireless Internet traffic in North America expected to grow more than 41-fold from 2011 to 2016, it is critical that adequate spectrum capacity exists to meet the growing needs of wireless consumers and our economy.
- More wireless spectrum is urgently needed to accommodate growing demand. Mobile data usage doubled in 2012. This means the spectrum available to expand mobile services also must increase dramatically. Smartphones use 50 times the amount of spectrum as a basic feature phone, while tablets use 120 times the amount of spectrum. Without more spectrum, consumers will experience more dropped calls, failed applications and other negative effects of congested networks.
- Adding wireless capacity will take years. The process of repurposing spectrum to expand mobile broadband can take years. Rules must be established. Public auctions must be conducted. Previous users of the spectrum must relocate to make room. And networks across the nation must be upgraded to take full advantage of these new mobile resources. Given the rapidly rising demands on the U.S. wireless networks, there is no time to waste.
- Spectrum efforts are key to U.S. competitiveness. Efforts to reallocate more spectrum to wireless networks represent an essential national undertaking to promote the continued growth and expansion of mobile innovation and all that it is delivering to consumers and our economy. More than 330 million wireless subscriptions in our country alone show that demand continues for next-generation mobile services, technologies and applications.
Our Bottom Line
Reallocating as much spectrum as possible for mobile broadband must be a top national priority. As the Federal Communications Commission works to free more spectrum capacity, it is vital that planned spectrum auctions proceed expeditiously and responsibly. This includes ensuring auctions are inclusive so all stakeholders can pursue spectrum to be able to provide the high-speed services that their consumers demand.
At the same time, the Commission must move forward expeditiously to review secondary market transactions which will put more spectrum to use. Additionally, supporting ongoing research and development, exploring spectrum sharing techniques and embracing new technologies to increase efficiency will help address some of the spectrum challenges while we continue to work toward longer term solutions.