September 28, 2009
The Federal Communications Commission continues its push to play a stronger role in the mobile industry, and it is launching a review on whether current spectrum allocation is enough to handle future mobile data needs.
The bandwidth over the air is not as abundant as wired connections, and wireless industry executives have long complained that the FCC needs to make more licensed spectrum available, particularly as more customers use data-hungry devices like the iPhone and T-Mobile G1. This trend is expected to continue, as Motorola said nearly 40 million American consumers actively use mobile Internet service, a 75% increase from just two years ago. The FCC is crafting a national broadband plan to determine how to give all Americans access to broadband, and wireless data networks figure to play a large role in this because of the ability to bridge that last mile of Internet connectivity. The lack of spectrum could also become a bigger issue as companies like Clearwire and Verizon Wireless roll out 4G networks capable of bandwidth-heavy services on the go like high-definition video streaming. "We seek additional comment on the fundamental question of whether current spectrum allocations, including but not limited to the prime bands below 3.7 GHz, are adequate to support near and longer-term demands for wireless broadband," the agency said in a public notice. "We request that commenters responding to this public notice provide detailed, fact-based responses and to the extent possible provide quantitative data and analytical justification for their arguments." Along with spectrum allocation issues, the FCC is also seeking input about better spectrum usage, throughput requirements for 4G networks, and what spectrum bands are best positioned to support fixed and mobile wireless broadband. The move comes as the government agency is in the middle of a wide-reaching investigation about the competitive and consumer-protection issues in the wireless industry. This review will touch upon multiple issues like handset exclusivity and spectrum utilization, and these findings will be used when considering future regulation of the industry.
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