This morning, the White House announced a new series of initiatives aimed at freeing up much-needed spectrum for mobile broadband. From the official White House release:

Today’s initiatives include a Presidential Memorandum directing Federal agencies to enhance the efficiency of their use of spectrum and make more capacity available to satisfy the skyrocketing demand of consumer and business broadband users. The Memorandum directs agencies to increase their collaboration and data-sharing with the private sector, so a full range of stakeholders can contribute its collective expertise to maximizing spectrum efficiency, including through greater sharing of spectrum between Government and commercial users. These efforts will provide access to more spectrum for wireless broadband providers and equipment vendors as they respond to increasingly rapid consumer adoption of smartphones, tablets, and other wireless devices.

The Memorandum also calls upon Federal agencies to increase public-private research and development (R&D) activities, emphasize spectrum efficiency in Government system procurements and spectrum assignments, and improve the accuracy and scope of their reporting on spectrum usage. It empowers a White House-based Spectrum Policy Team to oversee implementation of the Memorandum and make further recommendations. At the same time, the Memorandum requires appropriate safeguards to protect Government systems that rely on spectrum to keep Americans safe.

For spectrum-strapped providers — and the millions of customers they serve — today’s announcement is a great step toward keeping up with demand. But it’s just that, a step. What is urgently needed is a concerted effort to have large swaths of government owned and underutilized spectrum repurposed for commercial auction. Hopefully these new initiatives set us on a path to get there.

We’ll have more on the President’s announcement later on today.