Today, Vice President Biden met with first responders to thank them for their service and to discuss the new nationwide public safety broadband network included in the Payroll Tax Extension legislation. In addition, he announced the release of a new report from the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), The Economic Benefits of New Spectrum for Wireless Broadband), describing the substantial economic value of aggressively pursuing President Obama's goal of nearly doubling the amount of spectrum available for wireless broadband over ten years and deploying a nationwide interoperable wireless network for public safety.
The report summarizes the compelling evidence that additional spectrum for wireless broadband is needed to accommodate the surging demand for wireless data traffic, projected to increase by a factor of twenty between 2010 and 2015. The report also describes the potential for wireless broadband to play a transformative role in public safety and as a platform for innovation in many areas of the economy, and documents the substantial impact on jobs, growth, and investment that the growth of wireless broadband will have.
"I've been working on changing the way we allocate spectrum for a long time, because a smarter system is good for our economy, good for innovation, and vital to keeping our cops, firefighters and EMTs safe," said Vice President Biden. "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."
President Obama will soon sign into law a measure will implement important pieces of the Administration's wireless initiative -- including a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network that will, for the first time, allow law enforcement, firefighters and EMTs to have a dedicated communications network so they can talk with one another.
Our modern information economy depends on use of the radio airwaves for everything from smartphones and laptops connected to the Internet over wireless networks, to satellite and other wireless networks that bring Internet access to rural areas where running cables is too expensive. This report shows how important it is to continue supporting the growth of this vital sector of the economy.
In addition to describing the economic benefits of making additional spectrum available for wireless broadband, the new report addresses a number of key issues related to spectrum policy. Specifically, the report reaches the following conclusions:
* The use of voluntary incentive auctions will ensure that spectrum is reassigned from the lowest value uses to the highest, and that the economic benefits are widely shared among stakeholders, including broadcasters, wireless carriers, consumers, and taxpayers. The recently passed spectrum bill gives the FCC authority to conduct these auctions.
* Unlicensed spectrum is a valuable complement to licensed spectrum, and allocating new spectrum for a mix of licensed and unlicensed uses will offer the most fertile environment for future innovation. The spectrum bill gives the FCC authority to allocate more spectrum for unlicensed uses, creating new opportunities for the development of innovative wireless technologies.
* Federal funding for research and development in emerging wireless technologies will have substantial public benefits, particularly to support the development of innovative technologies for use in public safety. The bill sets aside $100-300 Million for public safety network R&D, funds that will be vital to helping the public safety community build a new robust, flexible and innovative network for first responders all around the country.