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Qualcomm CEO Addresses 'Spectrum Crisis'

At the CTIA wireless industry conference, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs made a pitch for femtocell networks to help ease data bottlenecks.

With the warning of a "looming spectrum crisis" overshadowing this week's CTIA wireless industry conference in San Diego, Qualcomm's top executive weighed in on the issue of net neutrality and made a pitch for femtocells and building up the density of mobile phone wireless networks as ways to deal with the approaching spectrum crunch.

In a speech at CTIA, Qualcomm chief executive Paul Jacobs indicated that he questions whether a heavy downloader of data over wireless networks should be charged the same price as an occasional user of data. His comments came a day after FCC chairman Julius Genachowski had warned of a "looming spectrum crisis" on the horizon as the number of mobile phone users downloading data multiplies.

Jacobs said the crowded networks are likely to become more congested, for instance, as more users upload videos to Internet sites such as YouTube. Genachowski had suggested that "secondary" approaches -- he mentioned Wi-Fi -- could help offload much traffic from wireless networks and the femtocell approach advocated by Jacobs appears to fall into that category.

"We think we can get eight to ten times improvement in user experience by building up a dense network and managing the interference between the macro network and these femto networks," Jacobs said, according to media reports. "We are getting to the point in the lab (where) we have done what we know how to do to optimize any given radio wave."

Genachowski also suggested that improved positioning of cell phone towers could help deal with the overburdened spectrum and, in a veiled reference to potential resistance from citizens groups opposed to locating towers in undesirable areas, he indicated that tower siting should honor the considerations of local authorities.

While Jacobs said he does not support wireless operators deciding which Internet service to allow on their networks, he indicated that carriers should be able to manage data on their networks.

Net neutrality supporters want zero discrimination on Internet data flow.

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