Genachowski: Cable Companies Aren’t the Bad Guys in Spectrum Fight

During speech at Mobile Future Forum, FCC Chairman shoots down allegations that cable companies are hoarding bandwidth, but stresses that the shortage is real

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has aligned himself with emerging technologies in the battle to redistribute spectrum, but he is not ready to make old media the bad guys. 

At the Mobile Future Forum in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, the FCC commissioner  shot down allegations that broadcasters and cable companies are hoarding airwaves. 

Genachowski said that cable and broadcast companies must free up spectrum they control so that it can be repurposed to meet the demand from tablets and smartphones.

Without reallocation, Genachowski warned, the country faces a spectrum crunch that could cripple high speed internet. 

"The networks we have today won’t be able to handle consumer and business needs," Genachowski said. "And it’s not like daylight savings — you can’t just turn back the clock. We can’t solve this problem in an instant. It will take time to reallocate spectrum."

The FCC chairman used the occasion to push for new broadband authority for his commission — in particular he wants Congress to give the commission the ability to auction off spectrum.

The FCC hopes to reallocate 500 megahertz of spectrum for broadband, nearly double the amount that is currently available.

"The looming spectrum shortage is real — and it is the alleged hoarding that is illusory," Genachowski said. "It is not hoarding if a company paid millions or billions of dollars for spectrum at auction and is complying with the FCC’s build-out rules. There is no evidence of non-compliance."