FCC chairman to call for sale of broadcaster spectrum to aid mobile users
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced Tuesday morning that the agency will recommend to Congress that 500 megahertz of spectrum be freed up to meet the needs of mobile broadband users in the future. Much of that could come from broadcasters and other sources and would be auctioned for commercial use.
“Mobile data usage is not just growing, it is exploding,” Genachowski said in a speech at the New America Foundation. “The fact is, the U.S. is facing a looming spectrum crunch.”
Spectrum, or airwaves, is the oxygen of wireless phone networks, he said. Already, carriers like AT&T have said they were caught off guard by the demands that smart phones like the iPhone have placed on their wireless network. The company has said mobile data use on their network has increased by 5,000 percent in the past couple of years, according to Genachowski.
Mobile providers have pushed the FCC to bring more spectrum onto the market for commercial use. But broadcasters have argued that they need the airwaves so they can experiment with new technologies like mobile digital television to reinvent themselves as more Americans choose other options than broadcast television for their news and entertainment.
Genachowski said the 500 megahertz would largely come from broadcasters but on a voluntary basis. And once auctioned to wireless providers, broadcasters would get a cut of the proceeds. He also mentioned the importance of WiFi and other unlicensed spectrum to bring high-speed Internet to users.
The FCC will present the mobile spectrum recommendation as part of its national broadband plan due to Congress on March 17.
“Today’s announcements on spectrum are essential to the wireless industry’s ability to continue to provide and expand Americans’ access to broadband anywhere and anytime,” wireless trade group CTIA said in a release. “ By proposing to free up 500 MHz of new spectrum for mobile broadband use, Chairman Genachowski has taken a tremendous step toward maintaining our worldwide mobile ecosystem leadership.”
February 24, 2010; 12:12 PM ET
Categories: Broadband , FCC , Mobile
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