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FCC Chairman On Future Of Broadband

Why is the government delaying plans for national broadband? Find out from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

Earlier in the week, the FCC said it planned to delay submitting its plans to Congress for national broadband -- by one month -- to better digest all the data and public input.

One of the major issues the FCC is grappling with is how to define broadband in terms of speed.

In submissions filed with the FCC last year, the biggest broadband providers, including AT&T I , Verizon and Comcast , argued for minimum speeds that were substantially below many other nations.

Meanwhile, Google is pushing for a two-pronged approach that would bring high-speed Internet access to all American homes in the short term and adoption of truly high-capacity broadband pipes in the long run.

Does the month-long delay mean the FCC is changing its plans? Or is the government just regrouping?


Although he didn’t say it outright, in an exclusive CNBC interview the Chairman suggested the delay could have something to do with making sure this massive project is, in fact, massive enough.

“We should have had a national broadband plan in the country a long time ago. The broadband team is working around the clock and they said they needed another 30 days and I wanted to support them.”

He went on to explain, “there’s a very real risk that demand for the spectrum could outstrip supply. We need to have enough spectrum. The challenge is that when you’re using smartphone you’re using about 50 times as much bandwidth as an old mobile phone.”

But that doesn’t mean the project will be focused on wireless. The buildout “will encompass both wireless and landlines,” he says. "Both have benefits."

In addition, the FCC appears to be concerned about closing gaps in the broadband plan.

The Chairman says, ”First there are a deployment gaps. There are parts of the country that can’t get broadband. And there’s a second gap. In some areas broadband is available but adoption rates are lows. We’ve got to tackle this.”

It's an urgent problem because "most jobs are posted online and if you don’t have internet access you can’t find a job."

And considering the jobs number on Friday, it's pretty important that people have access to jobs.

What’s the trade?

I think Google is really well positioned to benefit from the growth in broadband, says Karen Finerman. Or I’d look at Crown and/or American Tower, the tower companies should benefit from the buildout. More space will need to be leased, it's just a question of -- by whom.


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