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Unleashing America’s Invisible Infrastructure

October 21st, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

Just last week, President Obama said that to create jobs today and lay the foundation for economic growth and U.S. competitiveness in the future, “We need … a smart system of infrastructure equal to the needs of the 21st century.”

When most people think of infrastructure, they think of visible projects like highways, bridges or high-speed rail.

But just as vital is our invisible infrastructure – the electromagnetic spectrum that travels unseen through the air and enables all of our wireless communications networks, cellular voice and data services, as well as radio, broadcast TV, and satellite.

Wireless innovation fuels economic growth and job creation. Sales of smartphone “apps” – an industry that didn’t exist a few years ago -- topped $4 billion in 2009; our new apps economy has created many jobs and can create more. Our invisible infrastructure also supports breakthrough tools to improve education through mobile online learning and e-books, enhance health care through potentially life-saving remote diagnostics, and promote energy efficiency by supporting the smart grid.

But we are at an inflection point.

The explosive growth in mobile communications is outpacing our ability to keep up. Spectrum is finite. If we don’t act to update our spectrum policies for the 21st century, we’re going to run into a wall – a spectrum crunch – that will stifle American innovation and economic growth and cost us the opportunity to lead the world in mobile communications.

Today, many of the nation’s leading experts on wireless technologies gathered at the FCC for a spectrum summit to identify ways we can solve the spectrum crunch and unleash our invisible infrastructure to spark our economy and create a powerful engine for job creation.

I kicked off the discussion with some remarks that highlighted some of the strategies we are pursuing at the FCC to make more spectrum available and put it to its best use.

I hope you will check out my speech, and I encourage you to watch other videos from the summit, which feature national leaders like Aneesh Chopra, our nation’s Chief Technology Officer, and Jason Furman, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, as well as my fellow Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Baker.

The future is being built on our invisible infrastructure. Today’s summit identifies important ways we can work together to update our spectrum policies for the 21st century and make sure that infrastructure truly serves our country’s needs.

(Cross-posted at Reboot Blog)

2 Responses to “Unleashing America’s Invisible Infrastructure”

  1. twenty something says:

    Please remind wireless phone providers that some of us prefer to use our phones as phones! We neither want to use wireless handsets as interweb browsers nor are we pleased by mandatory fees for unwanted/unused services. And it is not "convenient" to be charged for something unwanted/unused.

  2. twenty something says:

    Verizon is guilty of "feature" infliction.

    I have self control. I use verizon wireless. Shortly non-smart-phones will not be a purchase option as the quality of the remaining handsets is questionable at best. Should I purchase a non-google HTC smart-phone versizon would inflict a mandatory interweb "feature" that I do not want and would not use.

    Should one have [foolishly] subscribed to an interweb package on a phone and should one exceed "acceptable" use of an "unlimited" plan verizon would block one's access to the feature without cancelling the subscriber account.

    Great! Verizon already has the infrastructure in place to NOT-charge me. Please 'force' verizon [and all wireless phone providers] to offer smart-phone use with interweb "feature" PRE-disabled and with zero charges.

    The non-driod HTC smart-phone will continue to funciton as a phone. And one may still run apps locally without the need for internet access.

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