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White House Promises Economic Benefits of Spectrum White House Promises Economic Benefits of Spectrum

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Congress

White House Promises Economic Benefits of Spectrum

February 21, 2012

A few days after lawmakers passed spectrum legislation, the White House issued a report that says freeing up more spectrum for wireless technologies will spur economic investment and job creation.

The report's timely release comes as President Obama waits for Congress to send him the spectrum legislation, included in the payroll tax cut package passed Friday, that would free up more spectrum for wireless broadband technologies and help build a national network for emergency first responders. The legislation calls for generating more spectrum by offering broadcasters money to give up some of their spectrum, which will be auctioned to wireless providers.

"Like other information and communication technologies that have transformed the economy in the past, the spread of wireless broadband is likely to increase the rate of growth in per capita income; spur economic activity through new business investment; and support many new high-quality jobs," the report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers said.

The report also echoes arguments from wireless carriers that they are facing a "spectrum crunch" given the public's growing demand for smart phones, tablets, laptops and other wireless devices. To meet this shortage, the White House pledged last year to find 500 megahertz of additional spectrum over the next decade. A big part of that is expected to come from the airwaves broadcasters may give up as part of the incentive auctions authorized by the spectrum legislation.

The new report alsopromotes the benefits of building a national broadband network for public safety. The spectrum legislation authorizes spectrum and $7 billion in funding to build the network. Public safety officials have long argued that it would greatly improve their ability to respond to emergencies and eventually allow them to better communicate with other first responders during emergencies.

"The measure that Congress just passed picks up on many aspects of the President's Wireless Innovation Initiative and will enable new spectrum to be used for innovation, to speed wireless communication, and to fulfill a promise made to first responders after 9/11 that they would have the technology they need to stay safe and do their jobs," Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Biden was active in pushing for the creation of the public safety network, which the report noted would enhance "the ability of emergency personnel to communicate efficiently and to obtain necessary information quickly, including real-time videos, images, and other data."

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