The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and the top lobbyist for broadcasters disagreed over the need for a spectrum auction during back-to-back speeches at the National Assn. of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, a gathering that brings together top television executives and Washington lawmakers and lobbyists.
According to a The Company Town blog by Joe Flint at latimes.com, at issue was the FCC's desire to reclaim some of the airwaves, or spectrum, broadcasters use for next-generation cellphones and tablet devices such as Apple's iPad. The FCC and some telecommunications companies have argued that there is a shortage of spectrum on the horizon and a solution is for broadcasters to voluntarily auction off some of their spectrum.
"We need to free up more spectrum for mobile broadband," he said. If no action is taken, he added, then the United States will fall behind the rest of the world.
"Other countries -– our global competitors -– are focused on mobile opportunities in a way that simply hasn’t been true in the past.... They are on our tail," Genachowski said.
Smith dismissed the idea of a spectrum shortage, arguing that outside of heavily populated cities such as New York and Los Angeles, spectrum, or the lack of it, is not an issue.
"Why should people in Kentucky have their local stations' signal potentially downgraded so urbanites in Manhattan can have a faster download of the app telling them where the nearest spa is located?" Smith cracked.