FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski addressed March 16 what he labeled âmisimpressionsâ regarding the nationâs need for additional spectrum to meet future wireless broadband Internet demand and the incentive auction mechanism that aims to recoup it.
Speaking at the Mobile Future Forum in Washington, D.C., Genachowski said âsome who want to preserve the status quoâ are responsible for floating four specific misconceptions regarding the agencyâs effort ultimately to free 500MHz of spectrum, 120MHz of which is part of todayâs DTV band.
Genachowski took issue with those who claim âthe spectrum crunch is greatly exaggeratedâ and that no crunch is coming. Naysayers suggest that âlarge blocks of spectrum (are) just lying around.â They also say some cable and wireless companies âare just sitting on top of, or âhoarding,â unused spectrum,â Genachowski said.
Citing âmultiple expert sources,â the chairman said this is not true. According to these experts, by 2014 mobile broadband demand and the spectrum required will be 35 times the level in 2009. Quoting Cisco, Genachowski said demand would increase about 60 times between 2009 and 2015, and added that spectrum coming online for mobile broadband is less than a 3 times increase in capacity.
As to hoarding, Genachowski said, âIt is not hoarding if a company paid millions or billions of dollars for spectrum at auction and is complying with the FCCâs build-out rules,â and there is no evidence of noncompliance.
Genachowski also took aim at those who want to delay FCC incentive auctions to recoup spectrum until after the completion of a spectrum inventory.
âThe good news is that we have already completed a baseline spectrum inventory that tells us more than enough to conclude that incentive auctions are an essential item to add to the FCCâs tool kit,â he said.
The chairman also addressed those who favor allowing broadcasters to sublease their spectrum rather than conducting incentive auctions. According to Genachowski, this approach is unsuitable because it would not vacate âcontiguous blocks of spectrum over broad geographic areas,â which is what is necessary for mobile broadband.
Finally, Genachowski acknowledged the fear of some broadcasters about repacking the band. The chairman said the FCC plan will seek to minimize the number of TV stations impacted and âcalls for fully reimbursing broadcastersâ costs for such moves.â The commission also âwould propose that stations not be forced to move from the UHF band to the VHF band,â he said.
Saying that it takes years âto auction, clear and build out spectrum,â Genachowski expressed the urgency of the issue. âIf we donât act, we wonât have enough spectrum for mobile broadband. That will have real consequences for consumers, who will face declining service, including dropped calls and Internet connections, slow downloads and high prices,â he said.