FCC Chairman Puts Focus On Spectrum


FCC chairman Julius Genachowski again put a spotlight on the need for more spectrum during the commission's Dec. 16 public meeting devoted to an update on the national broadband plan.

The update from various members of the broadband team did not talk a lot about wireless broadband specifically, but the chairman remedied that in his closing remarks and follow-up with reporters.

Among the things he wanted to highlight was the vital importance of mobile and mobile broadband, calling it a "critical piece of broadband strategy."

That comes as Congress this week heard from broadcasters defending their spectrum turf and a wireless industry that says, wherever it comes from, it has to have more spectrum.

Genachowski agreed: "There may be no greater spur to America's global competitiveness than getting this right. The record contains powerful evidence that the demand on our commercial mobile spectrum is on a course to outstrip the supply."

He said he had written down the phrase: "More Bandwidth for Broadband," sounding a little like the National Cable & Telecommunications Association arguing against must-carry.

Genachowski called mobile the single most important element of the nation's broadband future, and said he is convinced there is a looming spectrum shortage.

Asked by a reporter why he was convinced there was a spectrum shortage when some broadcasters say that is not true and the FCC has not yet even taken inventory on what is being used and how, he conceded that the country was not going to run out of spectrum tomorrow or next year.

"This is a medium and long-term challenge for the country," he said, "but we also know that spectrum policy of this sort takes a long time."

According to the commissioner, the agency can't wait until mobile broadband networks weren't working and there was a lot of information in the record. "There is not a lot of mystery around what is on the spectrum chart." He said the data on mobile broadband use from wireless companies, combined with the anticipated use a "number of different players expect," plus the laws of physics, "is what creates the challenge."

"From everything we've seen, there is no more important area of potential for the country in terms of our global competitiveness, generating economic growth, sustainable jobs for the next decade and mobile and mobile broadband," Genachowski noted.

That was one of three core messages from the FCC meeting the chairman said he wanted to highlight, the others being digital literacy and the fact that the broadband plan -- due to Congress in 63 days -- will have to be both aspirational and practical.