CTIA 2013: Authorities urged to free up spectrum for wireless, M2M

Freeing up airwaves for use by the US wireless industry could spur the take-up of new M2M services, with enormous benefits for consumers and businesses.

That was one of the key messages emerging from today’s keynote presentation at the CTIA Wireless Show in Las Vegas.

Speaking to a packed hall, Steve Largent, the president and chief executive of the CTIA, said his organization was pushing government authorities in Washington on the issue of spectrum availability, describing it as “pivotal” for the mobile industry’s future prospects.

A national broadband plan unveiled by President Obama involves making 500MHz of spectrum available for commercial use by 2020. And while Largent thinks the timetable is challenging, he also believes that spectrum release is an absolute priority.

“500MHz over ten years would mean an increase of $800 billion to our GDP, more than 350,000 new jobs and bring in at least $234 billion in new government revenue,” he said.

Referring obliquely to M2M, Largent said that “more spectrum would fuel innovation in nearly every facet of American enterprise, including agriculture, transportation, energy and logistics”.

“It can help utilities and consumers conserve energy and provide more sustainable operations,” he said, alluding to the use of smart meters as networked, energy-saving devices.

Speaking immediately after Largent, new FCC chair Mignon Clyburn said she appreciated CTIA support of the agency’s efforts to release more airwaves, describing spectrum availability as “one of the biggest challenges to our mobile future”.

“We’re doing lots of things to make more spectrum available,” said Clyburn. “The FCC remains on track to issue auction rules this year and hold an auction in 2014. We are also moving forward with plans to auction 10MHz of spectrum in the H block and 55MHz in other bands, as required.”

The FCC also wants to spur greater usage of unlicensed spectrum in the 5GHz band and is working on initiatives to encourage more efficient usage of spectrum.

“We’re promoting innovative ways to share spectrum, such as facilitating small cell technology in the 3.5GHz band,” said Clyburn.

Mary Dillon, the CTIA’s chair and chief executive of US Cellular, the country’s fifth-biggest wireless operator, highlighted the importance of M2M services to the future development of the industry.

“The convergence of M2M and big data really gives us an opportunity to integrate the mobile experience for our customers and provide benefits to them for years to come,” she said.

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