Mobile Future

The Chairman’s Mark

100 megabit per second connections to 100 million homes.

No question that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski laid out an ambitious goal this week for nationwide, affordable broadband. Leaving the details aside for the moment, the underlying concept is important: As Mobile Future consistently has repeated in this blog, all who care about mobility in the US should agree with Chairman Genachowski, about the urgent need to expand wireless capacity so that mobile users continue to have a good quality of service.

As he said only two months ago:

“There may be no greater spur to America’s global competitiveness than getting this right. The record contains powerful evidence that the demand on our commercial mobile spectrum is on a course to outstrip the supply.”

Julius’ pledge, though ambitious, is vitally important. But its implementation also will be very expensive.

To effectively walk his talk, the National Broadband Plan he will be submitting shortly to Congress will need to include coherent and practical policies that actually encourage America’s wireless build-out, and enable the considerable private sector investment needed to support it.

The numbers speak for themselves: More than $300 billion invested in wireless during the past 25 years. And according to NY Times tech columnist Randall Stross, even in an urban setting, a typical wi-fi deployment cost in an urban area runs $75,000 to $125,000 per square mile just to install the equipment. The FCC itself as estimated that some $350 billion in new investment will be required to achieve our nation’s broadband goals.

The Chairman has identified a crucial need, and has offered a bold vision for meeting it. Now the pressure’s on for the FCC – and all of us who care about our mobile future — to work together in creating innovative policies that will help solve that problem rather than exacerbate it.