updated 04:30 pm EDT, Wed October 7, 2009
Commission to bring net neutrality to wireless
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, speaking to attendees of the CTIA's fall event in San Diego, asserted the Commission's position on the expansion of net neutrality regulations to include mobile devices. Genachowski believes the FCC should maintain openness, "whether a person accesses the Internet from a wireless laptop or a netbook."
The Chairman also acknowledged the carriers' concerns regarding available bandwidth and network strain, as wireless Internet faces a unique set of challenges compared to wired broadband. "The biggest threat to mobile in America is the looming spectrum crisis," Genachowski said. "Exactly how much spectrum we'll need to close the gap, we don't know yet."
"TheFCC has looked at open Internet, it adopted open Internet principles, it enforced open Internet principles," Genachowski noted. "It did it in a way that left confusion, and it didn't do what it should do -- which is to provide clear sensible rules of the road."
When asked about the FCC's position regarding the rejection of Google Voice from the iPhone, the Chairman acknowledged familiarity with AT&T's letter but declined to provide a specific answer. He admitted that it represents an "important issue," and something that "the FCC needs to get its arms around."
The FCC is also working to reduce delays and roadblocks in the application process for cellular towers. With 4G deployment as a top priority, the difficulties surrounding infrastructure expansion are also high on the list of issues to resolve. Genachowski noted the FCC will soon enact a "shot clock" system that should help reduce time for companies attempting to obtain licenses to build towers.
"When we say that we haven't determined what we are going to do with handset exclusivity and we want your input, we mean it," said Genachowski. "We want you to be engaged. We need you to be engaged."