President Obama included his wireless broadband deployment plan as part of his American Jobs Act announced in his speech to Congress Thursday night. That included a plug for incentive auctions that would raise money and free up broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband.
The White House-distributed fact sheet on the bill included this section:
"Expanding Access to High-Speed Wireless in a Fiscally Responsible Way: The President is calling for a deficit reducing plan to deploy high-speed wireless services to at least 98% of Americans, including those in more remote rural communities, while freeing up spectrum through incentive auctions, spurring innovation, and creating a nationwide, interoperable wireless network for public safety."
"We applaud the President's recognition of the crucial role mobile broadband can play in spurring job growth and boosting the nation's economy," said Jonathan Spalter, chairman of wireless advocate Mobile Future. "Recent data shows that making additional spectrum available for wireless will lead to 500,000 new jobs in America. We strongly encourage lawmakers to make more wireless spectrum available quickly to meet exploding consumer demand, fuel our technology-driven economy, and unleash investment and new economic opportunities."
The President's jobs bill also sets aside $25 billion for school modernization that includes Internet-ready classrooms for over 35,000 schools.
The President said in his speech that he would ask the new bipartisan deficit panel to find enough money to pay for the programs, which suggests that incentive auctions could be part of that proposal if they have not passed as a stand-alone before then. One of the panel members is Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) who is well-versed in the issue as chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
The incentive auctions were added to the debt ceiling bill, but were removed before that must-pass legislation passed last month. The auctions are projected to raise billions for deficit reduction.