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FCC chairman brings welcome message

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 8:35am
Brad Smith, Wireless Week

ORLANDO – FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski brought a welcome message to the CTIA Wireless show Tuesday, saying the FCC's proposed incentive spectrum auctions are vital to the future of America's place in the global economy as well as benefits to the American consumer.

Speaking at the opening day keynote session, Genachowski said providing more spectrum for wireless operators is at the top of the FCC's agenda. There are enormous dollar benefits as well as enormous costs for not providing the spectrum, he said.

The FCC chairman's speech was introduced by Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, who said spectrum is the "oxygen" that the mobile industry needs to breathe. Hesse said the United States has regained its lead in mobile communications and with the FCC's assistance can remain there.

The FCC has proposed an incentive auction of television broadcast spectrum, saying the auctions would be a win-win for broadcasters, the wireless industry and the federal budget. The auctions would free about 120 MHz of spectrum unused by TV stations in exchange for a portion of the proceeds. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has criticized the proposal, saying mobile and cable operators haven't developed the spectrum they already have.

The auction would bring an estimated $33 billion for the federal treasury but Genachowski said the actual economic benefit for the nation's economy would be 10 times that. "Every day we don't free up spectrum costs our economy," he said, adding that doing nothing will cramp the expansion of services like remote health care and ear that America's global competitors are not standing still," he said. "American leadership in a global economy is not a birthright. Mobile is critical to America's future."

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