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CTIA: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski poses framework for regulating wireless industry

October 7, 2009 |  3:12 pm

Julius Genachowski
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images
After three months on the job as President Obama's chief telecommunications regulator, Julius Genachowski concluded, "It's all about mobile." 

At least that's what he told attendees at the CTIA wireless conference in San Diego this morning. The Federal Communications Commission chairman outlined four priorities as a sort of framework for how the Obama administration will regulate the market for mobile Internet service.

Calling it his "MBA plan" (mobile broadband agenda), Genachowski laid out the priorities:

  1. Add more spectrum capacity to handle the coming explosion of Internet traffic from smart phones and wireless laptops. From uploading and watching video on phones to accessing electronic textbooks, the uses of wireless connectivity are expected to zoom thirtyfold in the next five years, while capacity is projected to grow only threefold, leading to what Genachowski called a "looming spectrum crisis." He proposes two solutions: making more efficient use of the current network and freeing up more airwaves such as the ones the FCC auctioned off last year.
  2. Remove red tape to allow wireless carriers to build their networks faster. Genachowski vowed that his agency would expedite requests to put up cell towers, help clear spectrum and clarify policies on issues such as roaming, a statement that drew applause from the audience.
  3. Codify and enforce so-called net neutrality policies. Reiterating his previous statements, Genachowski said he favored regulations that would prohibit carriers from delivering some content faster than others. Though most of today's Internet traffic goes through wired cable of DSL services, a fast-growing portion of data also happens over cellphone networks. In a nod to the wireless industry, Genachowski acknowledged that there should be different sets of rules for wireless companies than for wired cable and DSL businesses.
  4. Operate more openly. He called for a "fact-based, data-driven" open dialogue with industry executives.

One industry bigwig, AT&T's mobility and consumer markets chief, Ralph de la Vega, took Genachowski up on the offer. De la Vega's message: The wireless industry ain't broke, so don't go trying to fix it.

-- Alex Pham

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.

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