FCC Cranks Up Spectrum Rhetoric

Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski cranked up the rhetoric in the FCC’s quest to find more spectrum for mobile broadband.

Ahead of a Nov. 30 meeting, the FCC forecast in a new white paper that there would be a spectrum crunch within the next five years, the basis for the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, released early this year. The Commission is also expected to introduce proposals for how to provide more spectrum at a Nov. 30 meeting.

The white paper, released Thursday (Oct. 21) backs up the FCC’s National Broadband Plan,
which among other things, calls for broadcasters to voluntarily give up some of their spectrum to be auctioned off to wireless companies. To make it more attractive to broadcasters to relinquish spectrum, the FCC is expected to propose in November that broadcasters be allowed to share digital channels.

The American thirst for mobile broadband is accelerating, the forecast concluded, likely to exceed the capacity of current wireless networks on the order of 35 times.

“We are an inflection point,” said Genachowski in a speech Wednesday at the Spectrum Summit in Washington, D.C. “The explosive growth in mobile communications is outpacing our ability to keep up. If we don’t act to update our spectrum policies for the 21st century, we’re going to run into a wall, a spectrum crunch, that will stifle American innovation and economic growth and cost us the opportunity to lead the world in mobile communications.”