FCC chief stumps for spectrum plan at NAB

Julius Genachowski urges broadcasters to work with gov't

LAS VEGAS -- FCC chairman Julius Genachowski urged broadcasters in an NAB keynote Tuesday to work with the FCC on issues surrounding the agency's recently unveiled national broadband plan.

"A real problem looms," Genachowski said. "At our current trajectory, the demand for mobile access will outstrip the supply -- by a lot. Data from multiple sources submitted as part of our broadband record tell us to expect a 40-fold increase in mobile Internet demand over the next five years."

The FCC presented its broadcast plan to Congress last month, proposing voluntary incentive auctions through which broadcasters could opt for channel-sharing.

"For example, a broadcaster could contribute half of its capacity and share spectrum with another broadcaster in the market -- continuing to broadcast their primary programming streams and more -- while lowering their operating expenses and gaining infusions of capital," Genachowski explained.

Auctions would be voluntary, he added, but participation by even a small number of broadcasters would free up a "very significant amount" of bandwidth, the FCC chairman said.

"We anticipate mechanisms to reduce or even eliminate risk and maximize upside for broadcasters that elect to participate in the auction," he added.

Genachowski said the plan wouldn't prevent broadcasters from deploying Mobile DTV, nor would it "confiscate spectrum and drive broadcasters out of business."

The regulatory boss touted spectrum-efficient technologies and policies and noted the FCC is creating broadband forums to allow engineering and business execs to chime in on broadband policy.

"We welcome an ongoing dialogue with chairman Genachowski," NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said after the address. "His remarks on the National Broadband Plan, as related to television spectrum reclamation were reassuring, and we will reach back to work with the chairman."