UPDATE -- Verizon CEO: What spectrum crisis?
UPDATED at 4:40 p.m. with response from the FCC's chief of staff
Is the U.S. wireless market so short of airwaves that it could face a capacity crunch for the next generation of smartphones and tablets? The Federal Communications Commission thinks so. But Verizon Communications chief executive Ivan Seidenberg isn't so convinced.
“If video takes off, could we have a spectrum shortage in five or seven years? Could be, but I think that technology will tend to solve these issues,” Seidenberg said in a question and answer session at the Council of Foreign Relations last Tuesday.
The FCC responded Thursday to Seidenberg's comments, saying the carrier had long advocated for additional spectrum to be made available to the mobile industry. FCC's chief of staff, Edward Lazarus, said Seidenberg's comments "are rather baffling."
"The fact is Verizon plays a major role in building an overwhelming record in support of more mobile broadband spectrum, consistently expressing its official view that the country faces a looming spectrum crisis that could undermine the country's global competitiveness," Lazarus said in a blog posting.
According to a transcript of Seidenberg's interview by the Wall Street Journal’s online deputy managing editor, Alan S. Murray, the head of the nation’s largest wireless company said broadcasters who are loath to give up airwaves will “probably think, let me cash out and let me go do something different.” The comments were in reference to a proposal by the FCC to allow broadcasters to voluntarily give up spectrum and share proceeds from commercial auctions of those airwaves.
The comments were made amid a battle between wireless companies and their trade association and broadcasters over the use of over-the-air spectrum to be used for mobile broadband. The National Association of Broadcasters has argued that their television and radio members plan to use the airwaves they might not be using today for new business plans such as mobile television.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has agreed with wireless trade group CTIA that the country is facing a “looming spectrum crisis,” in that there might not be enough airwaves to beef up wireless networks that are increasingly being used to access the Internet. In its national broadband plan, the FCC recommended 500 megahertz of spectrum be used for licensed and unlicensed high-speed Internet access.
Seidenberg, however, suggested the government’s aspirations might not be needed.
“So I think the market will settle it. So I don't think we'll have a spectrum shortage the way this document suggests we will,” he said referring to the FCC’s national broadband proposal.
April 8, 2010; 4:44 PM ET
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