by Eric Norwood
October 8, 2009
Today at the CTIA Wireless IT & E conference, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski delivered a keynote speech to wireless-industry executives praising AT&T's decision to allow VoIP calling on its wireless network. Genachowski discussed what he called a "looming spectrum crisis," as wireless Internet traffic is expected to increase thirtyfold over the next five years. The FCC Chairman promised "a full-throated, strategic look" into the imminent issue by the FCC, which he called "the biggest threat to the future of mobile in America." As more and more people turn to mobile devices for their web browsing, and bandwidth demand skyrocketing, wireless networks are headed for trouble. While Genachowski thanked AT&T for opening up its network to VoIP apps yesterday, he did not suggest a change in course as far as stricter net neutrality legislation. "The goal of the proceeding will be to develop sensible rules of the road — rules clear enough to provide predictability and certainty and flexible enough to anticipate and welcome ongoing technological evolution," said Genachowski. Immediately following the Chairman's speech were remarks from Ralph de la Vega, AT&T's Mobility CEO. De la Vega said he saw "no abuses" within his industry and rejected proposed FCC rules prohibiting the favoring or discriminating against Internet access over wireless networks. He blamed a small percentage of bandwidth guzzling smartphone owners, allegedly consuming almost half of AT&T's smartphone data use: thirteen times more data than the average iPhone user. After de la Vega's remarks, Genachowski responded by saying: “These are hard challenges. It doesn’t obviate the need to have fair rules of the road that preserve the open Internet."