FCC says new wireless spectrum is worth $120 billion

fcc-wireless-spectrum-mobile-broadcast-tv-fixed-land-mobileThe FCC will soon free up a new band of the wireless spectrum and it might be worth $120 billion, according to Fierce Wireless. In the next five years the 300 MHz spectrum will be released and within 10 years the commission plans to release the 500 MHz band to help increase mobile data communication as part of an initiative by the Obama administration.

“We can drive billions of dollars in private investment,” Genachowski said at an FCC forum on the topic in Washington. “If we don’t act to update our policies for the 21st Century, we’re going to run into a wall–a spectrum crunch.”

It’s all about money, and the FCC is looking to rake it in for the government. Valuing this first 300 MHz spectrum release at $120 billion, the FCC hopes to make some serious cash when the auctions start. In 2007, the U.S. government raised $19 billion in a 700 MHz auction, made famous by Google’s bidding on the band.

The mobile industry is responding somewhat favorably. The CEA and CTIA, two mobile industry groups, seem happy about the auction. “The FCC report provides even more fact-based analysis demonstrating the need for the U.S. to move aggressively to make a large amount of additional spectrum available for broadband mobile services,” T-Mobile USA CTO Neville Ray said in a statement. “Mobile data use is growing at an exceptional rate and ensuring that sufficient spectrum is available to meet the demand has economic and social benefits that cut across all levels of society.”

The FCC is also working with television broadcasters to steal the “white spaces” or wireless spectrum between TV channels. Much like radio, TV stations were given space under and above their allotted spectrum as a kind of bumper between stations, so that a TV doesn’t pick up two stations at once. This spectrum, now unneeded, could greatly improve technologies like Wi-Fi and wireless equipment like microphones. Because it was originally used for broadcast television, the spectrum can also stretch for miles, meaning that long-distance wireless devices would be possible.