Obama orders agencies to free up frequencies

ADVERTISEMENT
The carriers have been warning of a looming "spectrum crunch" that could clog the airwaves and prevent users from downloading apps or streaming videos on their phones and tablets.

A large amount of spectrum is set aside for government uses, such as weather analysis and military communication. 

The presidential memorandum encourages agencies to share their spectrum bands with the private sector. Spectrum sharing has been an emphasis of the Obama administration, although the wireless industry would prefer to be given exclusive rights to the frequencies. 

A White House team will oversee implementation of the memo and make further recommendations. The memo includes safeguards to protect government systems that use spectrum for public safety, the White House said. 

The administration also announced $100 million in funding on Friday for research into spectrum-sharing technologies. 

The actions come as the Federal Communications Commission is preparing to buy back the spectrum of TV stations for auction to the wireless industry. That auction of especially valuable spectrum, which will take place in 2014 at the earliest, is expected to produce billions of dollars for the government.