A quartet of industry leaders from around the globe provided their perspectives on the mobile Internet during this morning’s opening keynote session at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona: Randall Stephenson, President and CEO, AT&T; Xi Guohua, Chairman, China Mobile; César Alierta, Executive Chairman & CEO, Telefonica; and Vittorio Colao, Chief Executive, Vodafone. The keynote session provided a rare opportunity to see how international mobile operators view the revolutionary changes that are reshaping the mobile industry and our world. The most surprising revelation was the general consensus among this diverse group regarding the opportunities and challenges presented by the mobile Internet.
Today the FCC initiated a proceeding to consider increasing the spectrum available for unlicensed devices in the 5 GHz band by 195 MHz (35%). Proposing additional unlicensed use in the 5 GHz band is part of the government’s plan to address the need for additional spectrum to support exploding demand for wireless broadband capacity. It is also a reasonable approach to balancing competing demands for additional licensed and unlicensed spectrum.
As I’ve noted previously, there is a broad, bi-partisan consensus that America must transition its outdated telephone network technologies to Internet Protocol (IP) to remain competitive in today’s global market, create new jobs, grow the economy, and provide consumers with better service. Though it is broad, this consensus is not unanimous.
A group led by Free Press is opposing the transition to all-IP networks. Free Press apparently believes that modernizing our communications networks would harm consumers in low-income households and households with senior citizens who disproportionately rely on low-cost “basic” telephone service.
Congress recently mandated that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) make additional spectrum available through a novel incentive auction designed to transition television broadcast spectrum to mobile use. The FCC’s task is to adequately compensate television broadcasters for relinquishing their spectrum while ensuring such spectrum is rapidly transitioned to mobile uses that benefit consumers nationwide.
Today marks the seventeenth birthday of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Since it became law nearly two decades ago, the 1996 Act has largely succeeded in meeting its principal goals. Ironically, its success is becoming its potential failure.
By the time most teenagers turn seventeen, they have already begun planning their future after high school. Their primary school achievements are only a beginning in a lifetime of future possibilities. For most legislation, however, there is no future after the initial goals of Congress are achieved. Fortunately, the seventeen year-old 1996 Act isn’t like most legislation.