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Genachowski: 'We Need Incentive Auction Law, Now'

1/23/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

LAS VEGAS — Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski said the
country needs to come together to support universal
broadband adoption by the end of the decade.

Genachowski, who was interviewed by Consumer
Electronics Association (CEA) president Gary Shapiro
during International CES, said to do that the country
needs incentive spectrum auctions to free up more
space for wireless Internet service.

“We need ubiquitous broadband,” he said.
Genachowski said that since being appointed to
the FCC, he has directed the agency “on a mission of
harnessing the power of broadband internet to drive
economic growth and benefit all Americans.”

In walking the floors of CES, he said the show presented
more than 3,000 companies, with virtually every
product on the floor fueled by wired and wireless
broadband Internet.

“If you shut off the Internet, virtually nothing on the
CES floor would work,” he observed, adding the value
of almost every device at the show goes up as bandwidth
goes up.

Genachowski said he believes that “if we don’t create innovation zones based on massive broadband in the
U.S., other countries surely will,” and capital and jobs
will flow in that direction.

He said incentive spectrum auctions will help generate
badly needed spectrum to close the gap of the
nearly 100 million Americans who do not have broadband
at home today.

Universal broadband adoption is necessary, he said,
“so that every American will take advantage of our 21st
century communications platform, for finding and landing
jobs, for connecting to education in and out of the
classroom, for taking health care information and participating
in the community.”

The commission has already taken steps to remove
some of the barriers to wired and wireless broadband
build out, by encouraging public and private initiatives
to drive the industry.

The efforts, he said, will help generate 100,000
broadband-enabled customer-service jobs in the next
two years, he said.

“The opportunities of a broadband economy are
huge, and so are the challenges,” Genachowski said,
with the greatest opportunities and challenges coming
from mobile broadband.

“We now have the most 3G subscribers in the
world,” he said, and “we have a strong early lead in
getting to scale in 4G.”

“Private investment in a mobile broadband economy
is up by double-digit percentages, driving real job
creation with projections for even greater job creation
over the next few years,” he said.

Incentive auctions, Genachowski said, will encourage
spectrum holders to turn in bandwidth that can be auctioned
off, generating some $25 billion for the Treasury.
“We need to get it done now, and we need to get it
done right,” he urged.

Genachowski pointed out that the U.S. was the
first country to free up white space from unlicensed
spectrum.

The FCC, he said, has sounded the alarm about
a “spectrum crunch” for three years, and nowhere is
there a bigger crunch than at CES this week.

Without incentivized spectrum auctions, Genachowski
warned demand will swell and slower speeds
and higher prices will result, as innovators turn to other
countries, taking jobs and innovation with them.

Congress is to make a decision on a law enabling
the FCC to proceed with incentive auctions
by March 1. “At stake is U.S. leadership in mobile,”
Genachowski said.

He pointed out that wireless carriers now embrace
Wi-Fi as part of their networks.

Genachowski also challenged “myths” that the
Internet has helped lose jobs, correcting that the
Internet creates 2.6 jobs for every job it eliminates,
and does so all over the country — not just in Silicon
Valley.

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