FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Tuesday brought his
call for moving swiftly to free up more wireless spectrum home to a roomful
of big fans, the International CTIA show in Orlando,
the wireless companies who have been pushing the FCC hard to make that
In his keynote speech, the chairman, using a tablet as a
teleprompter, said it was like Tomorrowland had been moved from Disney
World to the Orange County
Convention Center. "Broadband
is no longer a luxury," he said, and unleashing spectrum is a national
priority. The broadband adoption rate is 67%, that is too low, he said, and the
cost of the U.S.'s
competitiveness could be severe.
He said there were four key reasons why spectrum was atop
the FCC's agenda: American competitiveness, opportunity, dollars and the
cost of delay.
He said the cost will be higher prices, dropped connections,
slow or unreliable apps, thousands of jobs not created, and, if Congress
does not approve incentive auctions to help move some broadcasters and others
off their spectrum, more than $30 billion in auctions revenues, and
measured by the consumer benefits in education and energy and health care of
the new spectrum, the cost of not freeing it up could be ten times that.
Genachowski echoed his theme that spectrum is the
oxygen of innovation, also echoing his intro by Sprint top executive
Dan Hesse. He said Cisco has projected a 60 times increase in
wireless need for spectrum by 2015, he said, explaining the "aggressive"
FCC plan for freeing up spectrum, which he said began with the new network
neutrality rules and included empowering consumers and promoting
competition, spurring deployment and lowering costs of the wireless buildout,
and freeing up spectrum.
Making a pitch for those new net neutrality rules, which are
under attack primarily by Republicans in Congress, he said they recognized
legitimate difference between wireless and wired technologies and also promoted
competition and consumer empowerment.
Incentive auctions are the right idea at the right time, he
said, and he has not heard an argument for why they shouldn't happen.
"It is essential we move quickly." He called it "a smart idea
whose time has come."