Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum Monday that would double commercial spectrum available for wireless broadband technologies.
The amount of information flowing over wireless networks has exploded in recent years raising concerns about a "spectrum crunch." According to the White House, wireless data will increase between 20 and 45 times 2009 levels in the next five years.
The memorandum will commit the federal government into making available another 500 MHz of spectrum during the next ten years, increasing easy and fast access to wireless across America, including rural areas. This would allow expansion of coverage for smartphones and netbooks among other devices as well as potentially increasing the services they provide.
The announcement was made in a speech Monday by National Economic Council Chairman Larry Summers, who stressed the plan would provide jobs and spark innovation.
"At their root, these initiatives involve the government acting as a catalyst for private sector investments and growth," Summers said. "Opening up spectrum will create the foundation for new private sector investment and economic activity – in mobile broadband and a range of other high-value uses – that would not have been possible without the coordinating and organizing role of government."
Tim O'Reilly, who writes and speaks extensively about Government 2.0 technologies and is the founder & CEO of O'Reilly Media, describes wireless spectrum as "one of the key infrastructure elements of the 21st century." He called the announcement today "a bold move to energize new investment."
While for centuries, infrastructure was built to move goods and services, today Obama is laying the groundwork to move "images and ideas," according to Summers. "Bits rather than mass."
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski supported Obama's memorandum in a statement. "Spectrum is the oxygen of wireless, and the future of our mobile economy depends on spectrum recovery and smart spectrum policies."