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White HousePuts Wireless/Spectrum Reclamation At Top Of Innovation Agenda

The White House
Friday indicated that reclaiming 500 MHz of spectrum for
wireless broadband was a top priority of its tech and innovation agenda.

In a report
released by the White House, "A Strategy for American Innovation: Securing Our
Economic Growth and Prosperity," topping the list of new initiatives that it
says "will improve America's economic growth and competitiveness on many
critical dimensions," is the wireless broadband initiative.

The President
talked about that plan briefly in his State of the Union address, saying that
it would help get high-speed broadband access to 98% of the country within five
years. He has also made at least a couple of speeches in the past two weeks
promoting his innovation agenda and invoking the importance of broadband.

The report, an
update of a September 2009 report, elaborated on the plan, saying that it would
be possible because the government would be freeing up 500 MHz over 10
years to avoid a "spectrum crunch." That, the administration
suggested, would pave the way for advances in "health, education,
transportation, and other areas," all points the FCC has been making in
its push for broadband deployment and adoption.

The FCC made
that spectrum reclamation part of its national broadband plan. It has already
adopted rule changes to help find 120 MHz or so of that total in the TV
spectrum band, prompting broadcasters to bristle at the suggestion they
can afford to reduce their holdings just as HDTV is taking off, they have
multicast DTV channels to program and are on the move themselves via
mobile DTV.

FCC Chairman
Julius Genachowski has said that he believes both broadband and broadcast
have a future, but has also pointed out that mobile broadband use is exploding
while the broadcast-only audience is under 10%, and that while some
broadcasters are taking advantage of all those new services, others are not.

Genachowski has
called for "speedy action" in Congress on incentive
auctions--Congress would have to approve paying broadcasters as an incentive to
get them to give up spectrum to be auctioned for wireless broadband.

At a speech tothe Free State Foundation on Friday, Republican FCC Commissioner
Meredith Attwell Baker suggested there might be too much emphasis on speed
rather than identifying the right spectrum to reclaim.