VIDEO INTERVIEW: In a world of rapid technology change, Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC commissioner, admits regulators are not always as fast moving as industry.
“We’re going to have to pick up the pace because we really have to make sure there’s enough spectrum in the pipeline to help mobile usage,” she told Mobile World Live in a recent interview.
Given spectrum is a finite resource, Rosenworcel said one way the US telecoms regulator is looking to free up more frequencies is to promote more efficient use of wireless technologies among federal users.
“We also need to be more creative,” she said. “Most mobile spectrum we think about today is in the 600MHz to 3GHz range – the sweet spot – but maybe it’s now time to look low, such as 400MHz, and really high, such as 60GHz. There are different use cases in different network topologies we can develop, and different ways to take advantage of different spectrum bands.”
And good spectrum policy, she added, will involve unlicensed spectrum. “About 30 years ago we set aside the 2.4GHz band for Wi-Fi and by any measure it has been a wild success. Mobile operators also use it to offload about half of their traffic. It creates a smoother experience for every user. We need to break down those old walls between licensed and unlicensed and recognise that good spectrum policy requires both.”
Rosenworcel said the FCC is currently reviewing its legal position on net neutrality, the principle that ISPs should treat all web traffic equally, following a ruling by a DC Circuit Court of Appeals in January that rejected the commission’s authority to lay down and enforce net neutrality rules enshrined in its Open Internet Order (2010).
“The agency is starting a new discussion about net neutrality and considering what legal ground these new rules should be on and what services should be subject to them,” said the FCC commissioner. She wouldn’t be drawn on whether the FCC would keep to its 2010 position, which gave mobile network operators more leeway on managing traffic than their fixed-line counterparts on account of having less capacity.
Not surprisingly for a regulator, perhaps, Rosenworcel is keen on competition. “It lowers prices and increases innovation,” she said when questioned on the regulator’s approach to any future operator M&A deals. “Benefits are good and real and positive for the economy.”