Add the head of the International Telecommunications Union
to those who are arguing for more spectrum for mobile broadband.
The Obama administration and the FCC got international
support for their mobile broadband push in the form of a statement
from ITU Secretary General Dr. Hamadoun Touré Friday. He said
that governments around the world must act now to promote mobile broadband,
roll out fiber, and find more spectrum if it is to avoid "network bottlenecks."
That came the same week the Obama administration and the FCC stumped for the
exact same thing.
"Robust National Broadband Plans that promote extra spectrum
and the faster roll-out of the fibre networks which are essential to
mobile backhaul are vital to support the growing number of data-intensive
applications," Touré said in a statement.
"Mobile operators have been investing billions to upgrade
and improve the capacity and performance of their networks," he added,
"but in some high-usage cities, such as San Francisco, New York and
London, we are still seeing users frustrated by chronic problems of network
Sounding a lot like either an FCC chairman or the head of
the wireless telephone lobby, Touré said: "Smartphone users already
consume on average five times more data capacity than users of ordinary mobile
phones. With the number of smartphones set to rise from today's global
estimate of 500 million handsets in use, to almost two billion by 2015,
operators are already having to employ multi-pronged strategies to keep up with
demand - and not all are succeeding."
Last year, Touré created the Broadband Commission for
Digital Development to push for worldwide broadband promotion and deployment.
Among the committee members is FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who has
certainly been doing his part, stumping for more spectrum for mobile broadband
at every opportunity, aided this week by President Barack Obama's roll-out of a
national wireless initiative to fund mobile broadband to 98% of the country
within five years.
The commission produced a report to the U.N. last September
which recommended that to build a virtuous cycle of broadband development, governments
not limit market entry, tax broadband "too heavily," and must
"ensure ample availability of spectrum to support mobile broadband
ITU is scheduled to hold its next world conference in
January 2012, and ITU indicated Friday that it expected increasing mobile
spectrum allocations would be a big issue at the conference. That would include
securing more contiguous blocks of spectrum, and more flexible use.
"Some views are that access to unused broadcast
spectrum - so-called ‘white spaces' - might help alleviate the spectrum
squeeze," ITU said in a statement. "The ‘digital dividend' of
spectrum freed up by the progressive global move to digital radio and
television seems certain to be high on the agenda of national delegations when
they convene in Geneva for the four-week-long [conference].
U.S. wireless companies were happy to have the international
"As we have been saying for a long time now, there is a
brewing spectrum crisis and the ITU joins a long list of well-respected
organizations confirming this," said Chris Guttman-McCabe, VP, regulatory
affairs for CTIA: The Wireless Association. "In order to avoid
bottlenecks, we must bring more spectrum to market. Now with the support of the
UN and the efforts of the President, FCC, NTIA and policymakers, let's work to
make spectrum available to continue this ‘virtuous cycle' of innovation and
competition so the U.S. remains the world's leader."