US President Barack Obama moved Friday to free up more broadcast spectrum used by federal agencies to help meet the surging demand from smartphones and other mobile devices.
A White House order calls for a federal team to evaluate ways for agencies to give up or share spectrum for mobile broadband operators.
The initiative is part of a plan unveiled in 2010 to make more airwaves available for commercial use to avert a "spectrum crunch" that experts say would make it harder to connect to mobile networks.
Mignon Clyburn, acting chair of the Federal Communications Commission, said the new effort "will enable us to meet the challenge of unleashing spectrum for commercial use while also ensuring more efficient use of spectrum."
"Doing so means more opportunity for all Americans -- greater access to jobs, healthcare, education, and more," she said in a statement.
The broadband plan has already been encouraging auctions of broadcast television airwaves, but attention is also focused on spectrum allocated for law enforcement, military and other government purposes.
Steve Largent, chief executive of CTIA, The Wireless Association, lauded the move, saying that "policymakers on a bipartisan basis have long recognized the importance of making underused spectrum available for commercial purposes."
"A successful repurposing of spectrum to mobile broadband will encourage the US wireless industry to continue to invest tens of billions of dollars each year, deploy world-leading networks, introduce cutting-edge devices and develop new products and services that will create tremendous economic benefits for American consumers, businesses and the US economy," he said.