June 28, 2010, 3:40 PM

Obama moves to expand mobile broadband

The President signed a memorandum that will make more bandwidth available for mobile phone users.

Lead Photo

Frustrated iPhone users take heart: President Barack Obama feels your pain.

Obama signed a memorandum today directing the government to free up wireless spectrum so that there is more bandwidth available for users of mobile phones and other wireless devices. The aim is to make available 500 megahertz in the next 10 years, nearly doubling the capacity of U.S. mobile networks.

“We are now beginning the next transformation in information technology: the wireless broadband revolution,” Obama said in signing the memorandum.

The president is moving in response to the explosion in the flow of data over mobile networks—an increase of more than 250% a year in recent years, the White House says. AT&T, the exclusive mobile network that supports Apple Inc.’s iPhone, is handling 50 times more wireless data traffic than it did three years ago, the White House says, in part because of the runaway success of the iPhone.

The government action won’t have an immediate impact on mobile commerce, but it could spur growth in all sorts of mobile activities in three to five years once the additional spectrum is auctioned off, says Tom Nawara, managing director for digital strategy and design for web and mobile marketing firm Acquity Group. “Making additional broadband access available to mobile consumers will definitely increase our ability to shop, and purchase, online,” Nawara says,” but it will also open up opportunities for a much wider range of real-time, location-aware, interactive mobile services.”

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