President Obama announced back in February his support for a Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative, which he believed would (among other things) “benefit all Americans, bolster public safety, and spur innovation in wireless services, equipment, and applications.” Under his plan, 500 MHz of spectrum would be freed up over the course of the next ten years in order spur on mobile broadband expansion and the development of 4G networks.
Rather than leave things up to fate, today the heads of Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint have decided to reach out to President Obama and let him know exactly what part of the spectrum they’re gunning for. In a jointly signed letter [PDF], they candidly lay out what they would like to see happen:
…We urge you to direct the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to identify and work to clear broad, paired, internationally-harmonized bands below 3 gigahertz. Access to spectrum in these critical bands will greatly enhance efforts to realize the important goals set forth in your Wireless Initiative and the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan.
But what does that mean? In short, the Big 4 carriers believe that freeing up those bands will help drive expansion in mobile broadband coverage into much needed areas, a key focus of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. A benign, seemingly altruistic request from the looks of things, but make no mistake — they would certainly stand to benefit. Still, if it means that people will be able get access to much-needed internet service where they couldn’t before, I’m willing to look past financial motivations.