Genachowski: Spectrum Crisis Not Immediate, But Planning For It Should Be


FCC chairman Julius Genachowski says there is a looming spectrum crisis, but Friday he appeared to be trying to to calm the waters a bit after several weeks of increasing alarm from broadcasters over agency talks about reclaiming their spectrum for wireless broadband.

In an interview Friday for C-SPAN's Communicators series, the chairman said that there were a lot ideas being offered up about what the commission could do to address the need for more spectrum: "We haven't said anything about which ideas were the best."

He also echoed a point he made earlier in the week at a press conference, which is that this is "a long-term planning issue fo the country." It has historically taken the FCC between 6 and 13 years to reclaim spectrum, he said.

"We know the problem is coming," he said, "It's not coming next week; it's not coming next month; it's not coming next year, but it is coming." And he did say the FCC has to start coming up with the policies to address it now.

The chairman said that while mobile broadband will be getting an infusion of spectrum  -- three times as much as it has now [thanks to the 700 mHz spectrum reclamed from broadcasters in the DTV transition] -- the demand charts predict mobile broadband use will increase by 30 times. "That is the gap I am worried about," he said, "and something that we need to tackle."

He said the FCC would be looking at government and commercial spectrum, but that there were "no easy pickings on the spectrum chart, and hard choices to make."

FCC broadband advisor Blair Levin has been meeting with broadcasters, including a discussion that produced some letters back and forth this week prompted by broadcasters' defense of retaining the spectrum they need to do high-definition broadcasts and multicast channels and mobile DTV, the last which is a potential competitor to broadband video.