Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski was all set to deliver the keynote speech on broadband at the CTIA International wireless tech conference this week.
But first, he had to address (or deflect) the elephant in the room: the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile.
“I know everyone here has been talking about the proposed transaction that was just announced,” Genachowski said, according to a report in The Hill. “Of course you’ll understand that I’m not going to comment on that.”
FCC will review the merger, for which AT&T might have some persuasive arguments. The telecom giant has argued, according to The Wall Street Journal, that the merge will help head off a foretold crunch as more Americans use smartphones using up valuable spectrum.
Genachowski has made warnings of a spectrum crunch part of his public remarks about the agency’s broadband efforts.
Otherwise, Genachowski focused his prepared CTIA remarks on a pitch he has been delivering recently and one that fell shortly after the one-year anniversary of FCC’s introduction of the National Broadband Plan.
Genachowski said the goal is now to bring that same spirit of innovation — that led from the so-called “brick” $4,000 analog cell phones clocking in at 2 lbs. to the “four-ounce mini-computer smartphones that all of us have in our pockets now” — to broadband adoption.
“The bottom line: Mobile broadband is being adopted faster than any computing platform in history, and could surpass all prior platforms in their potential to drive economic growth and opportunity,” he told the crowd at CTIA.
But the mobile broadband boom has created a dilemma. The proliferation of ever-sophisticated smartphone technology has begun taxing the wireless spectrum — “the oxygen that allows all of these mobile innovations to breathe, Genachowski said — beyond its limits.
To combat this crunch, FCC has championed initiatives such as freeing up unused TV spectrum space and voluntary incentive auctions.
The auctions are “the right idea at the right time,” he said, as evidenced by support from both the White House and a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill.