Former Democratic FCC chairman Julius Genachowski and former senior Republican commissioner Robert McDowell frequently did not see eye-to-eye, but they are on the same page with each other, as well as cable ops, when it comes to freeing up more government spectrum for Wi-Fi.
In a co-bylined op ed in the Wall Street Journal in advance of congressional hearings this week on wireless spectrum and the Internet of Things, the pair said auctioning government spectrum would not only provide revenue to the treasury but "greatly benefit" data-hungry consumers.
Given that it takes years after an auction to actually repurpose the spectrum—three to five is one estimate for reusing broadcast spectrum being auctioned early next year, for example—they argue the time to start working on freeing up that government spectrum is now.
"According to industry and FCC studies, the federal government still has sole or primary use of almost 70% of the spectrum best suited for broadband technologies," they wrote. "Congress needs to transfer some of that spectrum from federal to commercial use. That requires a comprehensive plan, which is crucial for maintaining the country’s momentum in wireless networks, devices and apps. Otherwise, investment, innovation, jobs and economic growth will suffer."
The bipartisan pair said that "keeping discussions bipartisan and focused on solving problems" is the way to proceed.
Genachowski is currently managing director at the Carlyle Group. McDowell is a partner at Wiley Rein LLP and senior adviser to Berenson & Co.