Mobile Networks Face a 'Spectrum Crisis,' FCC Chief Says
A "looming spectrum crisis" threatens the future of mobile networks in the U.S., Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski told a CTIA meeting Wednesday in San Diego, Calif. He said that while the short-term outlook for 4G networks is "adequate, the longer-term picture is very different."
Mobile data usage, the FCC chief said, is growing fast. He cited estimates that by 2013, mobile traffic will grow to 400 petabytes (one million gigabytes) per month from six petabytes today.
Handling that traffic, Genachowski said, will require reallocating spectrum now used for other purposes to 4G networks. He cited the recent change in 700-MHz spectrum from analog television to mobile networks as an example of what needs to be done.
The FCC is ready to cut red tape and help operators overcome obstacles to robust 4G networks, Genachowski told the industry group that has opposed his network-neutrality stand. He promised the operators that the FCC will work to obtain the best sites for cellular towers and process 4G paperwork.
He also reaffirmed his commitment to an open broadband network and promised that the FCC's hearing later this month will seek clear rules. "There shouldn't be any confusion," Genachowski said. "I believe firmly in the need for the FCC to preserve Internet openness, whether a person accesses the Internet from a desktop computer or a wireless laptop or netbook. I also believe the question of how we accomplish that goal, particularly in the wireless context, poses some difficult questions."
Consumer transparency is also a key FCC goal, the chairman said. He said the goal is to ensure that consumers have the information they need, and he added, "The same day we launched our competition and innovation and investment inquiries, we also launched an inquiry on consumer information and disclosure ... the timing was not coincidental."
Genachowski told the industry leaders, "I am committed to running an expert agency that works for all Americans -- that pursues high principles while recognizing the danger of dogma and the power of pragmatism. I look forward to working with CTIA and each of you to capitalize on the potential of mobile broadband."