Originally published: February 10, 2011
Last updated: March 2, 2011 - 12:39pm
The reaction to President Barack Obama's announcement about the National Wireless Initiative was mixed.
Rep Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said "Before we target any more of our scarce taxpayer dollars for broadband, it is critical to examine whether the money already being spent is having an impact, as well as how we can minimize waste, fraud, and abuse. Let’s ensure our resources are being used wisely. After all, even without these billions in taxpayer subsidies, the private sector has already deployed broadband to 95 percent of the country and two-thirds of the country subscribes."
Chairman Upton also addressed the President's proposal to reallocate the D-block spectrum to public safety: "Ultimately, we all share the same goal of creating a nationwide, interoperable public safety network. In 2010, the FCC’s national broadband plan found that both our public safety and wireless broadband goals would be better met by auctioning the D-Block – a conclusion that garnered bipartisan support in the Energy and Commerce Committee. I hope the President’s upcoming budget will shed light on how these proposals will produce the revenue he is proposing to spend and still achieve our public safety, wireless broadband, and deficit reduction priorities. When it comes to broadband, the answer is not simply more federal dollars with federal strings attached. I hope the President’s proposal includes meaningful steps to remove roadblocks to innovation and ensure federal agencies are not creating any new ones."
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller said, "I have long supported providing our first responders the ability to communicate with one another when the unthinkable occurs. My bill does exactly that, and I am glad that President Obama has embraced this great concept. The Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act, which is supported by fire, police and other first responder organizations across the country, will provide public safety officials with the spectrum resources they require to support a national, interoperable wireless broadband network that will help those who protect us from harm."
Rep Greg Walden (R-OR) , chairman of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, said, "I laud the goal but believe we must be cost-efficient about how we go about it and be realistic in our expectations of what taxpayers can afford. In pursuit of the goal of increasing the deployment of wireless broadband to the unserved areas of rural America, it will be important to remember the colloquial definition of ‘insanity’: repeating the same actions and expecting different results."
"We are very pleased that the issues of wireless broadband deployment has attracted the attention of the President of the United States," said Harold Feld of Public Knowledge. "As many have observed, wireless Internet access is the wave of the future and a source of jobs and innovation. The investments promoted by the Administration would, if implemented, go a long way to bringing next generation wireless service to areas which may not receive it any other way. The Wireless Innovation Fund will also promote a new generation of U.S. leadership for wireless technology, in licensed and unlicensed use. While we are also pleased that some of the reclaimed spectrum would be reserved for unlicensed use, we would be remiss if we did not raise a warning flag over the estimates of revenue to be gained from spectrum auctions. It is not at all clear that incentive auctions will take place. Even under circumstances of familiar auction procedures, estimates of revenue can very greatly from what is actually achieved. Important spending for our future should not depend on the vagaries of auctions."
CTIA: The Wireless Association, whose members will be getting more bandwidth to deliver all those new apps, was understandably pleased: "CTIA and the wireless industry are excited about the President's focus to ensure the entire U.S. wireless ecosystem continues to lead the world in investment and innovation. We are eager to work with the White House to expand the next generation of mobile broadband access to more than 98 percent of Americans within the next five years," CTIA said. "As numerous studies have shown, the ability to use mobile broadband anytime, anywhere is a great equalizer that offers tremendous benefit for consumers and drives the U.S. economy."
The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council applauded President Obama's "forward-thinking plan to bridge the digital divide by giving many Americans access to broadband for the first time. His proposal offers concrete progress that will create jobs, strengthen our economy and bring millions of Americans into the digital community."
National Association of Broadcasters EVP Dennis Wharton said NAB was not opposed to the president's plan, but... "Let's not forget that broadcasters returned more than a quarter of TV station spectrum to the government less than two years ago," he said, "and that much of that spectrum has not yet been deployed. NAB is not against the President's plan. We will work to ensure that incentive auctions remain truly voluntary, and that broadcasters who don't volunteer to return spectrum -- and the millions of viewers that we serve -- are held harmless."
Free Press was not happy with much of the plan. The group is all for deploying broadband, but sees the plan as skewed more toward helping incumbent wireless players rather than the public's interest. "While we are pleased to see the president focusing on our nation's broadband challenges," said Research Director Derek Turner, "we are concerned that the public interest is being overlooked in this proposal to sell more of our public airwaves to wireless companies like AT&T and Verizon. These industry giants are already building out their networks and expanding coverage, and they don't need a handout from the federal government to achieve the president's goals." Turner criticized the plan for the absence of policies to promote adoption. "Studies have shown that if you build it, they may not come," he said. "According to the FCC's own data, 98% of households in the United States already have access to wireless broadband service, while less than one-third subscribe to it.
- Sen Rockefeller praises public safety network in Obama jobs bill
- Rep Eshoo Pushing for Spectrum Auction Bill
- S. 3756 Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act
- Waxman's draft of supercommittee recommendations includes spectrum auctions
- White House Meeting on First Responder Network Scheduled With Biden, Genachowski
- Rockefeller deals blow to FCC public safety proposal
- Rep Waxman Urges Action on Wireless Proposals in American Jobs Act
- Rep King doesn't close door on Broadcasters' concerns
- FCC's Genachowski still supports D Block auction
- Absent Action, FCC Must Auction D-Block
- National Governors Association backs D Block reallocation
- Reaction to President Obama's Spectrum Plan
- Senate Dems rally behind public safety bill
- Broadband for First Responders
- Rockefeller: No Forced Spectrum Reclamation