Skip to main content

CTIA: Earthquake Demonstrates Need for More Spectrum

Add CTIA, the wireless industry lobby, to those using Tuesday's earthquake to push for more spectrum from the government.

While CTIA President Steve Largent said Wednesday that no towers went down and no networks failed as a result of the earthquake, which meant infrastructure was not damaged, lack of spectrum and the resulting congestion were the culprits for delays in calls getting through.

"Yesterday's earthquake underscored the vital need for our industry to get more spectrum," said Largent in a blog posting.

CTIA has been pushing the government to reclaim spectrum from broadcasters. "While television and radio played a role in helping to disseminate information to consumers, most Americans used their mobile devices to find out if their family and friends were safe," Largent said."[T]o ensure more people can use their wireless devices when there's a significant increase of users, we must get more spectrum, and fast," said Largent.

In the wake of the quake, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and public safety officials have used the ensuing communications congestion to argue for passage of legislation authorizing the FCC to compensate broadcasters for exiting spectrum to make more spectrum space for wireless service, voice and broadband.

The National Association of Broadcasters took issue with the blog. "CTIA's blog post fails to address the fundamental flaw in its predictable call for more spectrum, " said spokesman Dennis Wharton, "which is that all the extra airwaves in the universe won't solve cellphone network crashes in times of emergency. The ‘one-to-one' architecture of cellphones is inherently unreliable in a crisis, as has been demonstrated time and again. Contrast that with the robust and reliable ‘one-to-everyone' local broadcast signal, which has a track record that holds up to scrutiny in lifeline situations."