Obama will be forced to face the spectrum battle in his next term

07 November 2012 | Kavit Majithia


“Four more years,” declared @BarackObama to his 22,541,403 followers on social networking site Twitter at the time of writing.

After the international media had billed the election one of the closest in recent years, President Obama swept home in last night’s US election, securing 303 electoral votes to Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s 206, with only Florida left undecided.

While foreign policy and the economy will be on top of Obama’s agenda, the increasing need to address the lack of US spectrum for operators will no doubt be an issue the country’s major and smaller operators will hope the President will give importance to.

In his first four years in charge, Obama has overseen mammoth changes in the telecoms industry, with the launch and development of 4G LTE networks, the increasing demand for bandwidth on numerous platforms, AT&T’s failed bid for T-Mobile and Japanese company Softbank’s 70% takeover of Sprint all occurring under his presidential term.

It is a testament to social media and the rise in over-the-top (OTT) players that Obama (or his advisors) took to Twitter to announce his victory.

Twitter and Facebook have played an integral role in his re-election, with campaigning occurring over large ISP networks as much as it had been done on the streets or at large election rallies.

The hash tags #TeamObama, #Fourmoreyears and #Obama2012 will certainly stand out.

During the campaign, the Republican Party outlined its intentions to free up surplus federal spectrum, and find ways for it to be auctioned if it was elected, while the Obama administration largely shirked away from the issue. When the dust is settled, Obama’s administration will surely be asked how the government plans to provide much needed spectrum.

Obama does, however, appear to support network neutrality conditions on spectrum auctions, and will allocate spectrum for unlicensed use. This is something Romney said he would not do, instead hoping to decrease the amount of spectrum issued for unlicensed use.

Romney also criticised Obama’s administration for placing too much emphasis on internet privacy and cyber security. With Obama’s re-election complete, there is an increasing belief within the White House that the President is aiming for stronger regulatory controls on this issue.

Four more years means exactly that. And no doubt, international players will be closely watching how the world’s most developed telecoms economy changes up to 2016.