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FCC Chair Cites 'Spectrum Crisis'

Mobile broadband and an 'open Internet' are priorities of the Federal Communications Commission, says chairman Julius Genachowski at CTIA meeting.

Addressing "America's Mobile Broadband Future" Wednesday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said there is a "looming spectrum crisis' and he then went on to offer some solutions to the crisis.

Speaking at a telecommunications industry meeting in San Diego, Genachowski underscored the growing spectrum crunch by noting that in recent years the FCC has authorized a three-fold increase in commercial spectrum while many observers have anticipated a thirty-fold jump in wireless traffic.

"I believe that the biggest threat to the future of mobile in America is the looming spectrum crisis," Genachowski said, adding that a high priority of the FCC is to close the spectrum gap. "Even with innovative spectrum policies and innovative new technologies, experts believe we are way too likely to be caught short."

The FCC chairman, speaking at a meeting of the CTIA trade association, noted that some secondary markets -- he mentioned the benefit of Wi-FI in adding unlicensed spectrum to the national mix; as much as 40% of traffic in the home, for instance, can be offloaded to Wi-Fi.

But secondary market approaches aren't enough Genachowski indicated as he plugged the idea of reallocating existing spectrum for use in 4G applications. An example of reallocated spectrum could be the recent switch of 700 MHz spectrum from TV coverage to use by mobile carriers. He said: "We must identify spectrum that can best be reinvested in mobile broadband."

Genachowski mentioned tower siting as another area that is ripe for improving the delivery of 4G. He said the FCC would move soon to improve the location of towers while also honoring the considerations of local authorities.

At the same time while addressing those spectrum issues, Genachowski said he is committed to keeping the Internet "open -- a vibrant platform for innovation and investment, creativity and speech, an enduring engine for job creation and economic growth."

"As we embrace the opportunities of a wired and wireless broadband world, we shouldn't have uncertainty about whether we'll have an open Internet," Genachowski said. He pointed out that he recently asked the FCC to codify "a fair and common-sense framework" for an open Internet and he expects the FCC will begin proceedings this month to explore the best ways to carry out the open mandate.

Genachowski also emphasized the importance of ensuring transparency for consumers as the mobile broadband Internet develops. He observed that the FCC simultaneously launched an inquiry on competition, innovation and investment and another on consumer information and disclosure. "The timing," he said, "was not coincidental."

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