Less regulation, more government spectrum available for consumer use, and fewer limitations on which companies can acquire and deploy more robust networks across additional bandwidth will lead to the President’s goal of 98 percent LTE deployment in the United States.

The first commercial traffic crossed the Internet in 1992. Since then, technology has dramatically changed the way consumers communicate. Last year, U.S. consumers sent 2.3 trillion text messages and logged 2.29 trillion minutes on their wireless devices. As consumer demand for wireless continues to grow, the supply of government allocated airwaves is not keeping up.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) projects that by 2014, mobile data traffic will be 35 times 2009 levels, equaling demand for 1,097 MHz of wireless broadband spectrum. The Commission therefore estimates that the deficit in wireless broadband spectrum will be 275 MHz by 2014.

“With consumer demand on track to soon outpace supply, the government must move quickly to allocate more airwaves for consumer use in order to keep mobile broadband available, accessible and affordable. And beyond making additional spectrum available, it’s crucial that policy makers encourage the private investment necessary to deploy these airwaves for the benefit of all Americans.”

— IIA Co-Chair Jamal Simmons

From 1996 to 2011, the broadband industry invested nearly $1.2 trillion, and more private sector dollars are critical to reaching the President’s goal of universal broadband. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act earmarked $7.2 billion for the expansion of broadband, and the FCC’s recently launched Connect America Fund allocates $300 million more – but a FCC task force said reaching 100 million homes with a 100Mbps nationwide broadband network could cost as much as $350 billion. Taxpayer funds alone will not suffice.

“Pro-Internet policy successes came when government removed barriers, rather than adding new ones. Unfortunately those days may be ending.  While there is rare bipartisan agreement that the biggest challenge to broadband-enabled growth is lack of private investment and available spectrum, there is growing disagreement on how to fix it.”

— IIA Co-Chair Bruce Mehlman

Today, at an Internet Academy on Capitol Hill hosted by the IIA, industry experts will discuss, “20 Years Later: Are We Winning or Losing the Spectrum War?”  Speakers Bret Swanson, president of Entropy Economics, and Morgan Reed, executive director of the Association for Competitive Technology, will join IIA Co-Chairmen Bruce Mehlman and Jamal Simmons to examine spectrum policy, bandwidth consumption versus availability, and the need for investment as wireless technologies continue to advance. Topics will include:

• A look at how technology has changed since the first commercial traffic crossed the Internet in 1992.

• The benefits of mobile technology, and how it has changed the day-to-day activities and operations of a typical Hill office.

• The increase in bandwidth usage over the past two decades and the need for continued network investment.