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@ The Cable Show: FCC chief commends cable’s innovation efforts

Tue, 05/22/2012 - 2:03pm
Mike Robuck

NCTA's Michael Powell and FCC's Julius GenachowskiIn stark contrast to the dark days of former Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin’s reign, current FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski lavished praise on the cable industry for its innovative efforts.

In a one-on-one session with NCTA President and CEO Michael Powell, who has also served as the FCC’s chairman, Genachowski said cable operators have been key contributors in helping the FCC reach some of its goals.

“I’m excited about the innovation that we’re seeing across the broadband economy,” Genachowski said. “Across the board, we’re seeing tremendous innovation in networks, wired and wireless, in apps. In a number of important areas, America has regained world leadership.

“On the wired side, here’s something I don’t think most people appreciate. Three years ago, on cable broadband networks, only 12 percent were capable of providing speeds of 10 to 20 megabits. Today, with the rollout of DOCSIS 3.0, over 80 percent of cable subscribers are in systems that are capable of 100 Mbps or more. In our broadband plan, we set a goal for 2020 of affordable 100 megabits to 100 million homes in the U.S., and with the rollout of DOCSIS 3.0, we’re well on our way to hitting that goal.”

In addition to DOCSIS 3.0, Genachowski said on the wireless side that the United States has worldwide leadership status as the first country to roll out 4G services in scale. He also said the apps economy is “incredible on all platforms,” and that his counterparts in other countries are envious about the state of innovation here.

The success of the wired and wireless networks across the nation has led to some unintended consequences, according to Genachowski, including congestion on wireless networks. With the government accounting for 60 percent of the wireless spectrum, more needs to be done to make it available for commercial uses, he said.

Genachowski also commended the Wi-Fi roaming pact that was announced between Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications on Monday.

“Cable has been leading the way on innovating around Wi-Fi,” he said. “I was very pleased to see the announcement yesterday to do Wi-Fi roaming. I think that’s great. I think we’re just at the beginning of what we’ll see from Wi-Fi. We’ve been working to put on the market more unlicensed spectrum that has even more exciting characteristics than what Wi-Fi has now.”

Genachowski also commended cable operators’ efforts to bridge the digital divide by providing more affordable broadband tiers, such as Comcast’s Internet Essentials, to low-income families.

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