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FCC Chair To Face off With Wireless Industry

When Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski speaks at a wireless industry conference next month, he will face a tech sector that has been under extra scrutiny since he's come to the agency and, as a result, feels besieged.

Genachowski will speak Oct. 7 at the CTIA-The Wireless Association's conference, which is focused on business wireless providers and mobile entertainment.

Since Genachowski was selected by President Obama two months ago to be -- as described by Genachowski -- the "smart Internet cop on the beat," he has showered the wireless industry with attention.

He proposed new rules last Monday to ensure that consumers can access whatever content they want on the Web through any device. CTIA immediately responded by saying such rules shouldn't apply to the thriving mobile market, because it faces different bandwidth constraints from other broadband Internet providers. The FCC says there will be a discussion on how such considerations should be reflected in the "net neutrality" rules, but Genachowski has stressed that the rules should apply be across any Internet technology platform -- DSL, cable, and wireless included.

The FCC, at the request of lawmakers, also has launched a review of the wireless industry, examining whether practices such as exclusive partnerships between carriers and handset makers unfairly elbow out competitors and restrict choices for consumers.

Last month, the agency demanded that AT&T and Apple prove they didn't block the Internet phone service Google Voice from the iPhone, which is carried exclusively on AT&T's network.

To be sure, Web applications firms that see the need for stronger rules on how carriers manage their networks and have pushed for net neutrality rules will represent a portion of attendees at the conference, which is being held in San Diego. The network operators, however, have criticized the addition of more rules, with AT&T stressing that Genachowski's proposed new rules shouldn't apply to its wireless service.

"We are confident that when he sees first-hand the thousands of attendees and hundreds of exhibitors from around the world talking about the current and potential uses of wireless products and services ... he will be both impressed and inspired by the competitively-driven wireless industry," said CTIA chief executive Steve Largent in a news release.

By Cecilia Kang  |  September 23, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
Previous: Senate Republicans Scrap Anti-Net Neutrality Push | Next: Today in Wash-Tech Land, Something Besides Net Neutrality


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