The Feds Want to Make Your Cell Phone Work Better

Wireless spectrum—the tiny slices of the invisible world that make data through the air possible—is a precious, precious commodity. Everyone wants it. You want it. And the government wants to hand some out—but everyone will hate the plan.

Om reports the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is backing a plan to offload a "huge chunk of spectrum" and let the cell carriers use it. That means, hypothetically, better service for everyone with a phone. Wider coverage, faster downloads. But here's a strange twist:

Instead of clearing the 1755-1850 MHz block of all government transmitters, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is recommending that federal agencies and mobile operators share the airwaves, splitting time over the same frequencies between commercial and government use.

Huh. How will this child custody spectrum scenario go? Would private carriers get airtime primetime? But what about government agencies who need the spectrum during emergencies—which could happen at any moment? This sounds like it will annoy both sides—feds say they need it to keep society running smoothly, carriers say they need it to keep us from whining. AT&T, at least, sounds willing to play ball, says Om, saying they're down to work with "the impacted government agencies to address reallocation challenges in a manner that will ensure that the identified spectrum bands are made available expeditiously, while protecting vital government services that cannot be easily relocated." We'll see how that goes—we know how well AT&T plays with regulators. [GigaOm]