Tuesday, February 23, 2010

FCC Chairman Promises More Spectrum in National Broadband Plan

"Without sufficient spectrum, we will starve mobile broadband of the nourishment it needs to thrive as a platform for innovation, job creation and economic growth," stated FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a speech to the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Counting 2008's 700 MHz auction, the FCC in recent years has authorized a 3-fold increase in commercial spectrum for mobile broadband. But Genachowshki admits that this increase will not allow us to keep pace with an estimated 30-fold increase in traffic.

As part of its soon to be reveled National Broadband Plan, the FCC will set a goal of freeing up 500 Megahertz of spectrum over the next decade. The FCC will work closely with NTIA to do so. Specifically, the FCC will seek to establish market-based mechanisms that enable spectrum intended for the commercial marketplace to flow to the uses the market values most.

Genachowski said that one such mechanism will be a "Mobile Future Auction" -- an auction permitting existing spectrum licensees, such as television broadcasters in spectrum-starved markets, to voluntarily relinquish spectrum in exchange for a share of auction proceeds, and allow spectrum sharing and other spectrum efficiency measures. He pointed to one study that suggests that as much as $50 billion in value could be unlocked if the U.S. adopted policies to convert some of the broadcast spectrum to mobile broadband.

Genachowski also mentioned the the upcoming National Broadband Plan will seek to resolve longstanding debates about how to maximize the value of spectrum in bands such as the Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) or Wireless Communications Service (WCS) by giving licensees the option of new flexibility to put the spectrum toward mobile
broadband use--or the option of voluntarily transferring the license to someone else who will. In addition, the National Broadband Plan will encourage innovative ways of using of spectrum, including what some call "opportunistic" uses, to encourage the development of new technologies and new spectrum policy models.