FCC Chief Sees Clouds Darkening Broadband Skies


What keeps a man like FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski up at night? Try 40th out of 40. That’s the U.S.’ ranking in broadband improvements from 1999-2009 according to a study last year by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. The bottom line is Genachowski is worried that the U.S. is not keeping pace with global broadband competition and is in danger of losing its competitive advantage.

In an interview at the Web 2.0 Summit, Genachoswki apparently rehashed a speech he gave on Monday and cited the move by Applied Materials (s amat) to relocate its CTO Mark Pinto to Beijing, something he chalked up to America’s technology challenges. “The question we have to ask ourselves is how long before another company moves their CTO away before we fix this,” he said at the Web 2.0 Summit.

Genachowski said the U.S. is struggling to contend with some of the forward-looking policies and progress of the 20th century, which are making it harder to push ahead with broadband in the 21st century. He flogged the need for spectrum and reiterated the need to take some of the spectrum set aside for the television industry and move it over to serve the needs of mobile broadband, a process the FCC is working on with broadcasters. The dependence on copper for voice and DSL has also hampered the growth of broadband, which he said requires “fatter pipes.”

Genachowski said the FCC is also hard at work on net neutrality, but he said the commission is taking its time to get the decision right. He said he didn’t believe the change in Congress in the recent elections would hurt the FCC’s chances at getting rules passed on net neutrality. But he did acknowledge that an agreement by Verizon (s vz) and Google (s goog) on a framework for an open Internet slowed down the process that could have led to a resolution. “I would have preferred if they didn’t do what they did when they did,” he said. At least they did something.

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Brett Glass

Of course, Mr. Genachowski seems utterly unwilling to consider the notion that his attempts at regulation of the Internet might have put a damper on innovation and investment. Even though they have.

Richard Bennett

The story conveys the impression that our study, “The Atlantic Century: Benchmarking EU and U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness,” is some sort of broadband ranking. That’s incorrect.

The report surveys 16 factors that determine a nation’s ability to foster innovation, such as higher education, regulatory structure, tax policy, and investment in R&D. Broadband is one of the factors. We study the current standing of 40 countries, as well as the rate of change. The US ranks in the bottom half in all of the change factors we surveyed with the exception of venture capital and those related to private R&D investment. Our lowest change score is in progress toward E-Government. I would encourage analysts to at least read the executive summary before commenting on our findings.

Richard Bennett
Sr. Research Fellow, ITIF


I don’t know exactly when it happened, but the US has lost its competitiveness. It’s not a possible event in the future. It has already happened.


Blaming the profiteers at the top of the food chain is perfectly reasonable and justified.

Follow that on with the drones in Congress who perform the least at their responsibility to the electorate. We’ve just added a group that may include a few who are technically fit – but, don’t forget, their ideology will probably require broadband to be wood-fired.

Rubbing two sticks together isn’t conducive to modernizing infrastructure.

gabe morrow

personaly i liked the google version proposel mostly there wasnt enough proctections on non wirless but the proposel fits wirless perfectly for most part

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