updated 06:40 pm EDT, Tue March 27, 2012
Move could almost double commercial bandwidth
The US government has elaborated on possible plans to give up some of its spectrum for private use. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is exploring making some of the more than 3,100 frequencies it controls across a 95MHz range. Currently, the spectrum is reserved for over 20 US agencies, including military communication and weapon systems.
FCC officials as a whole have been pushing for a total of 500MHz more of free spectrum, or about twice as much as what US carriers currently have.
The need for wireless capacity is growing at at almost an exponential rate. By 2015, the demand is expected to more than quadruple to over 910 petabytes. Driving the demand might be video, which will account for almost two thirds of the expected consumption. Carriers have argued that they're nearing a spectrum "crunch" and need as much as possible, although critics have accused carriers like AT&T of hoarding spectrum they don't use.
This isn't the first effort the government has made in recent years to free up bandwidth. In February, the US Congress passed a bill to make unused TV spectrum available for Wi-Fi networking. Its biggest move was the 700MHz auction, which was what made AT&T and Verizon LTE networks possible without having to borrow airwaves used by 2G or 3G. [via Bloomberg]