White House Announces Mission to Upgrade US Wireless Spectrum Available for Public and Private Sectors

As demand increases and new technology enters the fray, the space reserved for wireless Wi-Fi networks gets smaller every year. There’s only a finite amount of WLAN channel space which is shared between companies, consumers and government bodies. In a bid to expand the usable wireless spectrum available for US businesses, the White House has announced it is repurposing federal spectrum access to free up to 2,700 megahertz.

White House Announces Mission to Upgrade US Wireless Spectrum Available for Public and Private Sectors

How the Spectrum is Used

Spectrum is the word used to map electromagnetic waves, in which radio waves and other kind of communication frequencies exist. Put simply, every device that uses wireless communication needs spectrum space to do so. So, to answer how it’s used, consider the everyday things that work without a cable. Everything from headsets and key fobs to Wi-Fi all operate on the spectrum, sorted into licensed or unlicensed bands. It’s crucial to internet infrastructure, where businesses market or even exist through spectrum connections. That means for an industry like iGaming, which is housed across websites, the spectrum is used to facilitate visitor connections. It’s also used to broadcast online bingo offers to user devices, offering free spins and similar enticements. The internet is the largest marketplace of them all, so even businesses based out of physical locations broadcast on it. The same can be said for business titans like Amazon or Netflix – their operations rely on wireless connectivity.

This isn’t to say that we’re in a spectrum crisis – there’s a lot of spectrum to go around when it’s carefully managed. However, it’s sorted into licensed and unlicensed, where businesses can buy exclusive spectrum space for their operations from agencies like the FCC. Their authority to conduct spectrum auctions has been reaffirmed in the summer of 2023. Now this new push to free up spectrum space aims to ensure America stays competitive with countries like China, by trimming federal usage to the benefit of core infrastructure and growing wireless demand.

The White House Blueprint

The White House introduced this new initiative via an official fact sheet that will serve as a blueprint for following legislation, along with an attached 26-page National Spectrum Strategy. As stated, it takes aim at up to 2,700 megahertz of spectrum for both public and private sector use.

The watchwords of this report are innovation, competition and security. The latter two are self-explanatory, as organisations like the CTIA have advocated for aggressive 5G implementation to close the wireless infrastructure gap between competitors like China. Since core infrastructure relies on spectrum space, there are security ramifications if the USA falls behind.

As for innovation, that refers to the ongoing digitisation of society and commerce. The paper itself references 5G, agricultural modernisation and private drone usage as contributing to growing private sector demand.

The plan is split into four pillars given the following names:

  1. A spectrum pipeline to ensure US leadership in advanced and emerging technologies.
  2. Collaborative long-term planning to support the nation’s evolving spectrum needs.
  3. Unprecedented spectrum access and management through technology development.
  4. Expanded spectrum expertise and elevated national awareness.

The repurposing of federal spectrum falls under the first pillar in this blueprint, while others focus on R&D and public education on the importance of maintaining a strong wireless infrastructure. As the world becomes more reliant on wireless technology, it’s clear that more careful and sustainable management of the spectrum will be required to satisfy everyone who wants to use it.

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