The surge in wireless data traffic has caused a “spectrum crunch”. With the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices with internet access, wireless data traffic has grown tremendously, increasing by more than 100% between 2009 and 2010. Industry forecasters expect that a rapid pace of growth in data traffic will continue for at least the next few years. For example, one industry forecaster projects that mobile data traffic will increase by a factor of 20 between 2010 and 2015. It is unlikely that wireless carriers will be able to accommodate this surging demand without additional spectrum. Other approaches to expanding the capacity of wireless networks, including improvements in spectral efficiency, increases in network density through cell site construction, and offloading traffic to wireline networks via Wi-Fi or other antenna systems, will likely be insufficient to allow capacity to keep up with demand. In short, the projected growth in data traffic can be achieved only by making more spectrum available for wireless use.
In response to this “spectrum crunch”, the Obama Administration has proposed making an additional 500 MHz of spectrum available for wireless broadband.
The full report is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/cea_spectrum_report_2-21-2012.pdf