Manage existing bandwidth better, panel says

Manage existing bandwidth better, panel says

Some federal officials are skeptical about the wireless industry's pressure on the government to relinquish bandwidth. At the ComNet trade show yesterday in Washington, Andrew Levin, Democratic counsel to the House Commerce Committee, said third-generation wireless applications 'are not here yet. It's not necessarily true that 'if you build it, they will come'.'

Speaking on a panel on policy and regulation, Levin said no wireless killer app is in sight, and '3G is not the government's highest priority.' He said carriers should use their existing spectrum more efficiently, stop analog cellular service and build more wireless cell sites. Any spectrum the government relinquishes 'would be better put to use to improve the quality of wireless voice service'get customers to cut the cord' and stop using wireline phones, he said.

David Gross, deputy assistant secretary of State for information policy, said 3G wireless has rolled out abroad more slowly than the industry expected, but wireless is the only phone service available in some nations. The United States should not 'be sheepish about our multiple competing standards,' Gross said. Although the Global System for Mobile communications standard prevails overseas, our Code Division Multiple Access standard is more efficient worldwide than GSM, Gross said.

Nancy J. Victory, assistant secretary of Commerce and head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission by late spring will release their assessment of the effects on agencies of opening up the federal 1,710- to 1,770-MHz frequency band to commercial sharing. Also this spring, she said, the Bush administration will make its policy decision on fostering wireless broadband development.

'The United States has lots of competing uses' for spectrum, Victory said. 'We need new management techniques.'

Kevin Martin, an FCC commissioner, said there is 'substantially more consolidation coming' among domestic and international carriers. Telecommunications capacity 'is tremendous and needs rationalization,' Martin said.

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