By Larry Magid

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — President Barack Obama signed a memorandum Friday that frees up wireless spectrum that the government is not using for private sector use.

The memorandum urges the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the FCC and other government agencies to look for ways to free up spectrum so that it can be used for mobile broadband and other commercial purposes.

Just to put this into context, the government owns a great deal of the radio spectrum in this country. Some of it is used for military, some of it is used for first responders, and some of it is used for government business.

However, according to some people I have spoken to in the wireless industry, much of it is used inefficiently or simply reserved but not used at all.

These days, cellphone users with data plans often have to pay a premium to use a lot of data and there is usually a cap on how much data a person can use. Spectrum is a finite resource, due to the laws of physics. While new spectrum cannot be created, it can be reallocated and used more efficiently.

Making the spectrum available to the private sector means companies such as Verizon, AT&T and others can provide greater bandwidth for customers. In the long term, it theoretically could mean and end to the spectrum crunch and the ability for them to give unlimited data. Perhaps we can all watch video and use our mobile devices without worrying about how much bandwidth we’re using or data we’re downloading.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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