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March 29, 2010

FCC Plan: Thumbs Up for VoIP Equipment Industry

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The new FCC (News - Alert) plan is decidedly positive for the VoIP equipment industry.

Wireless carriers and equipment companies “should benefitfrom the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan while smaller local exchange carriers and TV broadcasters may be vulnerable,” according to consultants Global Medley Advisors.

However, the consultancy says, the details of the plan – how it is implemented and executed – “will determine whether the government can meet its goal of broadband access for all Americans.” 

Ben Sayers, CEO of VoIP Supply, says“government money is certainly being freed up under the Obama Administration. We’re not exactly where we were back in June of 2008 or prior to that, but we’re optimistic.”

PCIA’s CEO Michael Fitch told RCR Wireless News (News - Alert) that the best part of the plan is simply that it recognizes the role of the wireless industry: “The most significant aspect is the recognition of the importance of wireless broadband competition as the real sweet spot of opportunity for expansion.

Wireless, Fitch added, “really has the ability as a practical matter to reach people it can’t reach now.”

The Federal Communications Commission sets what the agency terms “an ambitious agenda for connecting all corners of the nation.”

“The 10-year plan calls for connecting 100 million households to affordable 100-megabits-per-second service, affordable access to ultra-high-speed broadband of at least 1 gigabit per second at anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals, and military installations and making 500 megahertz of spectrum newly available for licensed and unlicensed use,” TMC’s (News - Alert) Erin Harrison wrote.

Some in the industry back the project. Global Crossing (News - Alert) applauded the move, with company officials saying they share the FCC's goal of expanding broadband deployment.

“The FCC is to be commended on its thorough effort to produce the National Broadband Plan,” said John Legere, CEO of Global Crossing. “The Commission identified many important policy changes that are required to realize the vision of a broadband future.”

The National Broadband Plan delivered to Congress calls for another 500 megahertz of spectrum to be freed up for wireless use by 2020, as well as an auction of D-Block spectrum and use of unlicensed spectrum, Global Medley said.

The problem with the plan, of course, is that a 10-year program cannot take into account the technological changes that will alter the industry, said Openwave CEO Ken Denman. Any bandwidth that comes to market will be used creatively, and as such spur new services and create more demand for more spectrum.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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