FCC commissioners push to quickly rewrite rules, free spectrum

by Steve Blum • , ,


Collegial commissioners at CES.

As plain old telephone service migrates to mobile and Internet protocol platforms, new regulations to match technology shifts and more wireless spectrum are the top priorities for the FCC this year.

Four of the five commissioners talked about what's ahead at a CES panel session this afternoon. Chairman Julius Genachowski made a solo appearance earlier, and his colleagues endorsed his plan to move ahead quickly with freeing up government spectrum in the 5 GHz band for unlicensed use.

“It's an affirmation of the ‘all of the above approach' we have to getting spectrum to market,” said commissioner Mignon Clyburn.

“I'm especially bullish about the 5 GHz band,” added commissioner Ajit Pai. “300 Mbps wirelessly – that is tremendous. We're talking about an order of magnitude.” Getting it all done in “three to five years is possible but I'd like to see it sooner than that,” he added.

Keeping up with rapidly changing technology and consumer choices is also a challenge.

“We used to talk about competition within technologies. Now we're talking about competition between technologies. About services that can replace technologies,” said commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. “Competition brings lower prices and more innovative services.”

“We need to be more aggressive about – every year – auditing our rules to see what can be discarded,” said commissioner Robert McDowell, pointing out that making outdated distinctions between technologies “creates distortions in the marketplace.”

The central question, said Rosenworcel, is “how do we inspire confidence?” The answer, she said, is quickly and clearly setting out the new rules.