The Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Lawrence E. Strickling reports that the demand for spectrum in this country is increasing at a rapid rate. Today the information flowing over some wireless networks is growing at over 250 percent per year without a corresponding increase in the spectrum.
Last fall, NTIA released a ten year plan and timetable that identified 2,200 megahertz of spectrum for evaluation, the process for evaluating these candidate bands, and the steps necessary to make the selected spectrum available for wireless broadband services. NTIA also released the results of a fast-track review to identify some spectrum reallocation opportunities existing in the near term. It was recommended that a total of 115 megahertz of spectrum be made available for wireless broadband use within five years.
This year NTIA evaluated the 1755-1850 megahertz band for potential transfer to commercial use. This 95 megahertz of spectrum is used currently by federal agencies for services and for some very complex DOD systems.
In 2012, spectrum issues will also be prominent internationally. The 193 countries members of the International Telecommunication Union will meet to discuss and determine how to met future mobile broadband needs.
As for broadband, NTIA has updated the Broadband Map which is the first public searchable nationwide map of broadband internet availability. Each update is powered by an extensive, publicly available dataset—more than 20 million records that show where broadband is available, the technology used to provide the service, the maximum advertised speeds, and the names of the service providers.
The funding from the Recovery Act has enabled NTIA to invest nearly $4 billion in about 230 projects to expand broadband access and adoption. Grantees in NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) have deployed or upgraded more than 29,000 miles of broadband infrastructure and installed more than 24,000 workstations in public computer centers. In the last quarter, grantees have provided more than 755,000 hours of training to around 220,000 participants. Today, the grantees report a total of more than 230,000 new broadband subscribers.