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Unleashing America’s Invisible Infrastructure

October 21st, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

Just last week, President Obama said that to create jobs today and lay the foundation for economic growth and U.S. competitiveness in the future, “We need … a smart system of infrastructure equal to the needs of the 21st century.”

When most people think of infrastructure, they think of visible projects like highways, bridges or high-speed rail.

But just as vital is our invisible infrastructure – the electromagnetic spectrum that travels unseen through the air and enables all of our wireless communications networks, cellular voice and data services, as well as radio, broadcast TV, and satellite.

Wireless innovation fuels economic growth and job creation. Sales of smartphone “apps” – an industry that didn’t exist a few years ago -- topped $4 billion in 2009; our new apps economy has created many jobs and can create more. Our invisible infrastructure also supports breakthrough tools to improve education through mobile online learning and e-books, enhance health care through potentially life-saving remote diagnostics, and promote energy efficiency by supporting the smart grid.

But we are at an inflection point.

The explosive growth in mobile communications is outpacing our ability to keep up. Spectrum is finite. If we don’t act to update our spectrum policies for the 21st century, we’re going to run into a wall – a spectrum crunch – that will stifle American innovation and economic growth and cost us the opportunity to lead the world in mobile communications.

Today, many of the nation’s leading experts on wireless technologies gathered at the FCC for a spectrum summit to identify ways we can solve the spectrum crunch and unleash our invisible infrastructure to spark our economy and create a powerful engine for job creation.

I kicked off the discussion with some remarks that highlighted some of the strategies we are pursuing at the FCC to make more spectrum available and put it to its best use.

I hope you will check out my speech, and I encourage you to watch other videos from the summit, which feature national leaders like Aneesh Chopra, our nation’s Chief Technology Officer, and Jason Furman, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, as well as my fellow Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Baker.

The future is being built on our invisible infrastructure. Today’s summit identifies important ways we can work together to update our spectrum policies for the 21st century and make sure that infrastructure truly serves our country’s needs.

(Cross-posted at Blogband)

6 Responses to “Unleashing America’s Invisible Infrastructure”

  1. Guest says:

    How about making new laws and restrictions for Fox and Comcast. FCC has given them free reign so that they might oppress WE THE PEOPLE.

  2. twenty something says:

    Please remind wireless phone providers that some of us prefer to use our phones as phones! We neither want to use wireless handsets as interweb browsers nor are we pleased by mandatory fees for unwanted/unused services. And it is not "convenient" to be charged for something unwanted/unused.

  3. twenty something says:

    Verizon is guilty of "feature" infliction.

    I have self control. I use verizon wireless. Shortly non-smart-phones will not be a purchase option as the quality of the remaining handsets is questionable at best. Should I purchase a non-google HTC smart-phone verizon would inflict a mandatory interweb "feature" that I do not want and would not use.

    Should one have [foolishly] subscribed to an interweb package on a phone and should one exceed "acceptable" use of an "unlimited" plan verizon would block one's access to the feature without cancelling the subscriber account.

    Great! Verizon already has the infrastructure in place to NOT-charge me. Please 'force' verizon [and all wireless phone providers] to offer smart-phone use with interweb "feature" PRE-disabled and with zero charges.

    The non-driod HTC smart-phone will continue to funciton as a phone. And one may still run apps locally without the need for internet access.

  4. twenty something says:

    Verizon is guilt of "feature" infliction.

    I have self control. I use verizon wireless. Shortly non-smart-phones will not be a purchase option as the quality of the remaining handsets is questionable at best. Should I purchase a non-google HTC smart-phone versizon would inflict a mandatory interweb "feature that I do not want.

    Should one have [foolishly] subscribed to an interweb package on a phone and should one exceed "acceptable" use of an "unlimited" plan verizon can block one's access to the feature without cancelling the subscriber account.

    Great! Verizon already has the infrastructure in place to NOT-charge me. Please 'force' verizon [and all wireless phone providers] to offer smart-phone use with interweb "feature" PRE-disabled and with zero charges.

    The non-driod HTC smart-phone will continue to funciton as a phone, and should the owner choose run applications locally without the need for internet access.

  5. Will S says:

    Mr. Chairman,

    With all due respect, we've heard enough speeches and rhetoric. There are many ways and sources for much needed spectrum for broadband. Its time for swift and decisive action. This is clearly the area the FCC is tasked to govern.

    Broadcast television at this point accounts for such a small percentage of viewers, yet such a large and attractive piece of spectrum, that its clearly in the public's interest, to reclaim it and put it back to use for the greater good. The few people still relying on terrestrial broadcast TV could be transitioned to equivalent local station cable service either through USF, or cable industry mandates to provide basic local service to their service area's, or a myriad of other ways, including even making terrestrial broadcasting equivalent to internet broadcasting, so these people could receive their TV through the internet connection they can now get.

    Archaic technology always reaches a point when it simply no longer makes sense, either financially or no one uses it or other, that you just have to throw it in the dumpster and move forward. Broadcast TV (and I'd say nearly radio too) have passed this point, and are now a hindrance to innovation in America and in fact its economic recovery as well. Other, more aggressive and forward moving nations are going to fly right by us technologically if we don't stop letting lobbyist's run this country! The US certainly isn't known for its hard work ethic anymore, so if we lose our edge technologically (which has arguably already been lost), our obese nation is going to have a real tough time transitioning back to a manual labor workforce, losing wealth and power all along the way.

    The FCC laid out a clear vision for net-neutrality. Its time to make it happen. Its time to free up airwaves. Its time to quit just talking about these things, and take some real action. Before lobbyists make it impossible. You have the vision, you're in charge. This is what the American people voted for, and its why the Democratic party is now suffering, because its been all talk, no substantiative action.




  6. Sheri A. Farinha says:

    Thank you Chairman Genachowski for having the forsight to think ahead to be able to efficiently plan for the future. As a consumer I won't pretend to understand everything in your report with regard to the spectrum needed, cell sites, and all. But I did want to comment, as an advocate for Deaf and Hard of Hearing consumers regarding this statement: "While modeling precise consumer effects is outside the scope of this paper, it is very likely that these unnecessary costs will affect consumer prices if new spectrum is not made available." I feel its imperative that Deaf consumer needs, especially video usage directly to 9-1-1 be factored in, so that our access in the wireless world is not an after thought. This impacts the need to support major improvements in the PSAPs so that they can handle all types of users, including Deaf and Hard of Hearing Americans be it text, video, captioned telephone services,etc. I'm just worried that the model is basing its projection on voice only wireless users to determine the strength of cell sites needed, and etc. and hope that you can include us in the concept of the design from the start.

    Thank you for all you are doing.

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