US president Bill Clinton has signed an executive memorandum directing federal agencies to work with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the private sector to decide which portion of the radio spectrum will be allocated to third generation (3G) wireless technologies.
The move is the latest attempt by the United States to keep up with the advancements being made by Europe and Asia in wireless communication and related technology.
Heated competition surrounds access to the air waves here. While next generation wireless technologies bring the promise of improved Internet speed and media rich content, the US has been slack on directing what portion of the network communications companies may use.
"My administration is committed to strengthening US leadership in the information and communications industry," Clinton says. "Over the last five years, the information technology sector has accounted for nearly one-third of the US economic growth, and has generated jobs that pay 85 percent more than the private sector average. The action I am taking will help US high-tech entrepreneurs compete and win in the global marketplace."
Clinton asks that federal agencies work with the private sector to reallocate, share, or evolve existing systems to make sure that a proper range of the wireless spectrum is made available for 3G wireless networks by July 2001. He says current users of the spectrum receive fair treatment in the process and that national security and public safety concerns should receive high priority as well.
Clinton cites October 20 of this year as a deadline to develop a plan for the advancement of the project. He says an interim report on the status of the current spectrum and ways to reallocate or share bandwidth should be readied by November 15 of this year. Clinton is looking for auctions on licenses to occur by September 30 of 2002.
The president is also directing the secretaries of defense, the treasury, transportation, heads of other executive departments and agencies and the secretary of state to move the project along and cooperate with the FCC.
"If the United States does not move quickly to allocate this spectrum, there is a danger that the US could lose market share in the industries of the 21st century," Clinton says.
Communications vendors are voicing support for Clinton's initiatives to push the technology forward. Verizon Communications says it is pleased Clinton set a detailed time line for making spectrum available and is vowing to aid federal agencies in the progression of the effort.
"The development of 3G wireless services will yield tremendous benefits to US consumers and the US economy, but additional spectrum must be made available to support its development," Verizon says.
The White House is on the Web at http://www.whitehouse.gov/.