Obama endorses plan to boost wireless broadband

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to participants of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month event in the East Room at the White House in Washington

U.S. President Barack Obama endorsed on Monday plans by regulators to nearly double the spectrum now available for wireless devices.

The White House announced a plan modeled after proposals by the Federal Communications Commission to free up 500 megahertz of spectrum over the next 10 years to meet the demand for laptop computers and smartphones such as Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) popular iPhone.

Some estimates suggest the next five years will see an increase in wireless data of between 20 to 45 times 2009 levels, reflecting the burgeoning use of wireless devices.

The Federal Communications Commission, which manages commercial spectrum licenses, and the Department of Commerce, which oversees government spectrum, have been working together to locate unused spectrum.

Officials said they hope they can identify some spectrum by Oct. 1 that can be made available within five years.

Paul Gallant, a telecommunications analyst with Concept Capital, said Obama's announcement is a plosive development for wireless infrastructure companies such as Alcatel-Lucent SA (ALUA.PA), American Tower Corp (AMT.N), Ciena Corp (CIEN.O), and Tellabs Inc, among others.

The "White House's endorsement bolsters the outlook for spectrum goals" laid out by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in the recent National Broadband Plan, Gallant said.

Freeing up airwaves to meet the growing demands of the wireless industry is a major component of the FCC's National Broadband Plan to increase Internet subscribers and provide affordable access to rural and low-income families.

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