CTIA keynote: Genachowski promises to address spectrum shortage, tower siting

SAN DIEGO--FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski laid out a plan to address two of the wireless industry's major policy complaints during a kickoff keynote appearance here at the opening of the CTIA IT & Entertainment show. The chairman's address essentially represented an olive branch to an industry that has been buffeted by the FCC over a variety of issues, including industry competitiveness, handset exclusivity deals and net neutrality regulations.

"All of you are changing the world," Genachowski said. "Mobile is central to our mission" at the FCC.

Genachowski laid out four goals for the FCC that he said would aid the wireless industry in providing mobile broadband to consumers:

---Unleashing new spectrum for bandwidth-hungry carriers. "We will need a lot more spectrum," Genachowski said. "Spectrum is the oxygen for mobile broadband networks." Genachowski said the agency would look at re-allocating spectrum, encouraging efficient spectrum usage and potentially freeing up more spectrum for unlicensed use.
--Aiding in the deployment of networks by smoothing the process of tower siting, thereby making it easier for carries to install new towers. "This issue is ripe for action," Genachowski said, drawing scattered applause from the audience.
--Promoting an "open Internet" through net neutrality regulations. "I believe it is essential to ensure the Internet remains open," Genachowski said, adding that "questions remain open" about how to implement the guidelines for wireless.
--And ensuring a transparent and competitive market for consumers.

Genachowski's first two goals directly address longtime complaints by the wireless industry. Wireless carriers and industry lobbyists have for years petitioned for more spectrum and relaxed tower-siting regulations. The actions drew praise from wireless trade group CTIA.

"We would like to thank the chairman for his support for committing to helping the industry on two of our key issues, spectrum and tower siting," said CTIA President Steve Largent in a statement. "These two efforts, on behalf of the commission, will help the United States to continue to lead the world in wireless. We share the chairman's commitment to ensuring every American has access to the best wireless products and services in the world. We look forward to continuing to work with him and the rest of the commissioners on their fact-based inquiries about the wireless industry."

However, in a keynote appearance immediately following Genachowski's, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega spoke out against the chairman's net neutrality push.

"We have a vibrant wireless industry," said de la Vega, essentially arguing against any regulation that could slow the industry's growth. Specifically, de la Vega said the Internet should be free of regulation, and not subject to the net neutrality regulations that Genachowski has been pushing for.

Nonetheless, Genachowski urged the wireless industry to work with the FCC. He said the agency would work to address the various issues in an open and transparent way, and that the commission's actions would be "fact based" and "data driven."

"Broad is the future of mobile," he said. However, Genachowski added a seemingly necessary caveat to his comment, warning that "we may not always agree."

Following the keynote, Sprint issued a response:"Sprint is particularly pleased that the chairman recognizes that the wireless industry depends upon affordable, high capacity middle mile lines. Sprint has long held in proceedings before the FCC that the market for these special access lines is broken and must be fixed. We look forward to working with the FCC to resolve this issue as we believe leaving this matter unresolved is harmful to the country's broadband economy."

Added Sprint: "Lastly, Sprint is pleased that the Chairman recognized that there are real and relevant differences between operating wired and wireless networks. Sprint wants customers to be able to access the applications and the Internet sites they want, when they want. We look forward to working with chairman Genachowski and the FCC as they create policies that meet the expectations of consumers, continue innovation in device development, and preserve the ability of carriers to manage networks in a reasonable and responsible manner."

For more:
- see the full text of Genachowski's speech

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