Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski dropped by the Consumer Electronics Show to speak about both the “immense opportunity and the critical challenge” of U.S. wireless capacity.
Genachowski said the United States is at the beginning stages of a “mobile revolution that is sparking an explosion in wireless traffic.”
But, while that means Americans are bombarded with ever more sophisticated smartphones and wireless technology, the demand for wireless spectrum is being taxed to its limits.
“Without action, demand for spectrum will soon outstrip supply,” Genachowski, in a familiar refrain, warned the CES audience.
The specter of limited wireless spectrum could mean increased network congestion and put economic competitiveness at risk, he added.
The answer is quite simple: “We need to free up more spectrum,” Genachowsi said.
FCC, which laid out its strategy in the National Broadband Plan, has proposed holding “incentive auctions” to free up space on the wireless spectrum. Under the proposal, which Genachowski explained at an October FCC meeting, broadcasters would sell unused portions of the broadcast spectrum to wireless providers who would then use the new spectrum to increase bandwidth on their networks.
FCC has also called for freeing up so-called “white space” – unused portions of the broadcast spectrum to shore up wireless broadband networks.
Without action, Genachowski said the looming crisis would not bode well for consumers.
“Whether or not most Americans know the physics of spectrum, they know what it feels like to have a dropped call or a slow connection or cranky Wi-Fi,” he explained.
And, with broadband usage rates expected to increase by a factor of 35 over the next five years, Genachowski suggested the results will only get worse.
As for the elephant in the CES showroom – net neutrality – PCMag.com reported Genachowski’s remarks barely touched on the controversial measure to regulate Internet providers.