Monday, January 17, 2011

FCC Chairman Speaks at CES

The 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas, displayed breakthrough devices that will bring a tidal wave of new mobile innovations and machine-to-machine wireless technologies according to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski speaking at CES. He said “Since the consumer electronics industry is going wireless, the future success of the industry depends on whether the U.S. government acts quickly to unleash more spectrum to handle wireless traffic—the oxygen that sustains mobile devices.

According to the Chairman, without action, demand for spectrum will soon outstrip supply and this is why unleashing spectrum is at the top of the FCC’s 2011 agenda. As he reports, “The amount of spectrum available for mobile broadband represents about a threefold increase over where we were a few years ago. This sounds good, until you see the forecasts of a huge increase in mobile broadband traffic over the next 5 years.

Genachowski discussed how the FCC is addressing the need for more spectrum to be made available for broadband and to remove unnecessary restrictions on the use of spectrum. This means that the recovery of 25 megahertz previously used for wireless communications services and 90 megahertz of mobile satellite spectrum for use for terrestrial broadband will now be available. As a result, 500 megahertz of spectrum will be made available for broadband which is almost double of what is currently available.

As reported, the Department of Commerce’s NTIA is setting up a “Spectrum Management Advisory Committee to discuss the broad range of issues regarding spectrum policy. Commerce and other government agencies will continue to encourage dynamic spectrum sharing and secondary markets for spectrum as well as the development and deployment of smart antenna technology and devices. These devices have the ability to access unlicensed spectrum like Wi-Fi to off-load traffic from cellular networks, free up “white spaces” spectrum in the television bands, and remove barriers to the build-out of wireless infrastructure.

The Chairman commented on how voluntary incentive auctions would help free up spectrum for mobile broadband. The FCC is already paving the way for incentive auctions, going towards lifting technical restrictions so prime bands of spectrum can be freed for flexible broadband use. Just recently, a joint letter sent from associations in the industry representing more than 2,000 companies with over $1 trillion in revenue, was sent to Congressional leaders to swiftly pass legislation allowing the FCC to conduct voluntary incentive auctions.

In other FCC news, the agency has just announced the availability of their new “Open Internet Challenge” to encourage the development of innovative and functional applications. This program will enable users to have information on whether their fixed or mobile broadband internet services are consistent with the open internet. Software tools are needed to detect whether a broadband provider is interfering with DNS responses, application packet headers, or content. Details on the “Open Internet Challenge has been posted on