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White House 'Pleased' With FCC Spectrum Plans

Furman, deputy director of the Obama administration's National Economic
Council brought a shout-out from the President to FCC Chairman
Julius Genachowski Thursday as part of the Commission's
spectrum summit in Washington.

Furman, who
moderated a panel on the spectrum crunch for mobile broadband, said that
the spectrum issue had been discussed with the President on a number of
occasions, that he was "personally excited"
and signed off on an effort to double the spectrum available for mobile
broadband, and that the President was "pleased with [Genachowski's]

Furman was
surrounded by tech execs and analysts on the panel--from Qualcomm, Dell,
T-Mobile--who said it was critical to free up more spectrum to meet an
anticipated 35-times increase in demand, driven
in part by the proliferation of multiple device users. Genachowski
illustrated that point during his opening speech for the summit,
pointing out that he had two smart phones and a tablet (from which he
was reading his speech).

The Chairman said in that speech that the country was at an inflection point on mobile broadband.

"Historically, it takes between six and 13 years to repurpose licensed
spectrum for new uses. We need to get moving now. We don't want to
find ourselves in a spectrum crunch with consequences we can predict -
frustrated innovators, frustrated investors, and
frustrated consumers with the choice of lousy service or sky-high
prices," he said.

The other
side of freeing up spectrum is the broadcasters who will need to give up
some of their spectrum as part of the plan. "I'm pleased that
broadcasters are thinking seriously about what this
value proposition means to them, how it can help their business," the Chairman said. "I appreciate the constructive engagement we've had with
broadcasters on how we can make an incentive auction work."

That would
be the auction of broadcast spectrum given up in exchange for a cut of
the revenue generated, a move that will require congressional action.

Genachowski said
swift action by Congress to do that will be "a critical step toward
more efficient spectrum," but that the FCC needs to act now
to lay the groundwork for that.