FCC Chairman Pushes for Better Mobile Broadband
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said he's pushing for improved mobile
broadband during a conference hosted by The Wall Street Journal. He
linked mobile broadband and innovation and promised to work toward
increasing the available spectrum for the technology, which he said
should be "unleashed."
During the D8 tech conference, Genachowski told WSJ tech reporter Walt Mossberg that deploying 4G wireless networks would help allow the United States to catch up with other industrialized nations that currently offer faster, more complete wireless broadband coverage. "There's no doubt in my mind that the biggest opportunity to drive competition to [fixed] broadband is to take advantage of mobile broadband," the Journal reported him saying. "We need to have enough of an infrastructure here for companies to innovate here, launch here and want to do business here."
On June 2, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international economic organization of 31 countries, published a report showing South Korea, Iceland and Germany, among other countries, had jumped ahead of the United States in their ability to provide access to broadband Internet services. The United States ranked 15th overall. The organization noted Internet connections are currently faster in 12 countries, whereas the nation ranked third in speed less than half a decade ago.
The rankings and Genachowski's comments come at a time when the FCC is pushing for greater regulation of the broadband industry through a redefinition of broadband services as telecommunications. The commission's efforts recently received backing by Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who said it would certainly be a priority for the Democratic Party.
The news also follows an FCC survey, which found the vast majority of Americans have no idea what the speed of their mobile broadband service is. The commission is trying to right that with a volunteer scientific study of 10,000 Americans to measure home broadband speed in the U.S. Ultimately, the FCC hopes to develop tests that help each individual consumer in the U.S. determine his or her own broadband speed. The agency took a first step in March by providing two speed tests that consumers can use at home or on their wireless phones.
Even if unaware of how fast their Internet connection is, the survey also found most Americans are satisfied with the broadband speed they are getting. Fully 91 percent of broadband users say they are "very" or "somewhat" satisfied with the speed they get at home. The comparable number for mobile broadband, which is not yet technologically capable of the same speeds as home broadband, is 71 percent satisfaction. As a point of comparison, 92 percent of cell phone users are very or somewhat satisfied with their cell phone service overall.