CES: Genachowski Cites Need for Additional Spectrum

FCC Commissioner Also Announces Plan to Expand Wi-Fi Spectrum by 35%
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CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro dubbed Julius Genachowski the "spectrum chairman" in a wide ranging interview over commission policies that saw Genachowski defend spectrum auctions, announce plans to free up Wi-Fi spectrum, and say he had no plans to leave his current post.

Shapiro began the hour-long interview by telling Genachowski that "we want to call you the spectrum chairman because freeing up spectrum has been the hallmark [of your tenure as FCC chairman]...On behalf of the industry I appreciate your focusing on spectrum and the dire need for spectrum."

Genachowski quipped in reply "I accept this honor on behalf of the FCC staff" and reiterated his longstanding contention that freeing up spectrum would encourage innovation.

"I don't think it is a surprise that broadcasters who aren't interested in tendering [spectrum] would rather this not happen," he said. "But we need to do this for the country. It doesn't make sense in New York to have 28 full power licenses."

Looking forward with spectrum, he announced that the FCC would be looking into ways to expand Wi-Fi spectrum, adding later in the session that they hoped to expand it by as much as 35%.

"When you see how much more video wants to travel over Wi-Fi, we are announcing today plans to free up a substantial amount of spectrum for Wi-Fi to relieve the Wi-Fi congestion at conferences and at air ports and ultimately at home," he said.

A key goal was also to open up spectrum in a way that would allow for future technology advances that might require spectrum for new uses.

"We can't be in a position where" such and such technology "is the last big idea," he said.

In a later discussion of spectrum, he also noted that once the incentive auctions are completed and the broadcast spectrum is repackaged, there would continue to be space between broadcasters. These white spaces will open up opportunities to free up additional spectrum, he said.

Ensuring competition was also a top priority at the commission, he said, as a way to encourage innovation.

Genachowski also dismissed rumors that he might leave the agency: "I love the area I work in and love showing up for work and don't have any plans for that to change."