Genachowski Asks Congress for Help in Reclaiming Broadcast Spectrum

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FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski asked Congress for help Wednesday in
reclaiming broadcast and other spectrum for mobile broadband. That came
in a June 9 hearing in the House Appropriations Committee Financial
Services Subcommittee on the FCC's 2011 budget.

The chairman
promised to take "full account" of over-the-air viewers, and continued
to maintain that the plan would be a win-win-win (for broadcasters,
viewers and the government), but said the government needs to move fast
to head off a spectrum crunch.

Congress needs to approve the
FCC's plan to use some of the proceeds of that auction to compensate
broadcasters for giving up spectrum. While much of the broadband
plan the FCC can do on its own, spectrum reclamation is one of the
things that Congress needs to weigh in on as well.

He also
fielded lots of questions on the FCC's plan to reclassify broadband,
saying he was willing to work with stakeholders to find the best way
forward, which he continued to argue was his proposed "middle ground"
between onerous regulation and doing nothing.

The FCC is planning
to launch a proceeding to classify some of broadband under Title II
common carrier regs at its June 17 meeting.

Subcommittee
Chairman Jose Serrano (D-NY) asked Genachowski when he thought the FCC
could put the reclassification issue behind it. The chairman did not
provide a timetable but said the commission would not put broadband
plan implementation on hold while it resolves the question of its
authority over broadband access.

Serrano asked if the BitTorrent
decision "crippled" the FCC. Genachowski would not go that far but
acknowledged that it raised serious questions and problems that had to
be solved to preserve the FCC's oversight of broadband access.

Asked
if he had support for his proposal, Genachwoski would not speak for his
fellow commissioners. For their part, Republican Commissioners
Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker have both said they saw no
marketplace failure justification for the imposition of onerous new
regs, said ranking member Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.).

Genachowski
said he opposed onerous new regulationss as well and that his "third
way" proposal does not include them. "I support the restoration of the
light-touch regime that we have had," he said.

Serrano asked
Genachowski why the country had "fallen behind" in broadband. The
chairman suggested that in part it was dealing with legacy
infrastructure, one of the reasons he said the FCC needed to migrated
the Universal Service Fund to broadband.

Ironically, access to
the hearing itself over broadband was interrupted for a large swath of
the proceedings due to streaming problems.

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