Calling mobile phones the most pervasive technology in history, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genechowski opened the CTIA Wireless 2012 show by telling his audience that more people now have mobile phones than have electricity or running water. He also highlighted political news that will impact the industry in the months ahead, noting that yesterday the U.S Senate confirmed President Obama’s nominations for the two vacant posts at the FCC.
The Senate finally confirmed Ajit Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel after a delay related to LightSquared’s quest for spectrum to launch a wholesale nationwide LTE network. For now the FCC has blocked LightSquared, saying its network would interfere with GPS signals. Before that decision, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) had placed a hold on the Senate’s vote to confirm Pai and Rosenworcel, saying the Senate would not vote until the FCC released more information about LightSquared’s plans.
Genechowski reminded his audience about his four main objectives for the FCC: promoting innovation, driving investment, fostering competition, and empowering consumers. He then talked about ways the agency is working to increase the availability of spectrum, calling the release of white spaces spectrum “the most significant release of spectrum for unlicensed use in 25 years.”
The FCC Chairman went on to discuss spectrum sharing between government and commercial carriers. “It is becoming hard to free up clear blocks and re-allocate from government to commercial,” Genechowski said. “We may find that in some bands sharing allows us to auction some spectrum that otherwise may never get to the commercial market.” Genechowski said that the FCC plans to test spectrum sharing for the 1755 MHz – 1780 MHz bands, which are currently used by the Department of Defense. If those bands can successfully be shared by public and private operators, the FCC wants to auction them in combination with the 2155 MHz – 2180 MHz bands, thereby increasing the available AWS spectrum by 50 megahertz.
The FCC chairman also thanked the CTIA for its support of initiatives to disable stolen phones and to support the development of next generation 911 services. Next generation 911 services allow mobile phone users to send text messages and photos to 911 operators.
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