Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined several agency initiatives to open up more spectrum for mobile services, as well as improve spectrum efficiency, in a keynote address at CTIA Wireless today.
The moves, some new and some already announced, are part of scheme launched in 2009 under the National Broadband Plan to make 500MHz more spectrum available for mobile over 10 years. "We have to recover new spectrum, and we have to pursue all the other tools and policies at our disposal," Genachowski said. Other techniques for better using spectrum could include small cells, smart antennas, and "refarming" of frequencies used for older services into mobile broadband, he said.
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Before launching into what the FCC is doing to ease the spectrum shortage, Genachowski took a few jabs at AT&T over its aborted acquisition of T-Mobile USA, which was announced on the eve of last year's CTIA show. AT&T abandoned that plan late last year after the FCC and Department of Justice blocked it.
AT&T had argued it needed to buy T-Mobile to get enough spectrum to build out its national LTE network, and because the mobile business demands larger carriers with economies of scale to give subscribers what they want.
"The argument that competition is bad for consumers is at odds with basic free-market principles," Genachowski said. In the past, competition has led carriers to introduce both new features, such as family plans and off-peak minutes, and technologies for greater spectrum efficiency, he said. "Our review of one transaction that crossed the line simply proves that there is a line."
The agency already has plans to auction a total of 65MHz of spectrum in the next three years, Genachowski said. There are several other steps in play as well, he said: