LIVE FROM FT-TELEFONICA MILLENNIALS SUMMIT: Julius Genachowski, former chairman of US regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has warned the US not to rest on its laurels now that it has established itself as the market leader in 4G technology.
Speaking in London this morning, Genachowski reflected on the FCC’s achievements over the previous four years of his tenure as it sought to place a major focus on improving US connectivity to broadband wireless services.
“The US has regained global leadership in key broadband metrics,” he claimed, before warning that its status as an LTE market pioneer may not last forever. “We need to remember that the US was ahead in 3G before it was behind in 3G, so in this new world it’s dangerous to think that because of any country having a lead it’s then set in stone – it’s not.”
According to a GSMA report last week, the US has opened up a large lead in deployment of next-generation technologies; by the end of 2013, nearly 20 per cent of US connections will be on 4G LTE networks, compared to fewer than 2 per cent in the EU. Meanwhile, average mobile data connection speeds in the US are now 75 per cent faster than those in Europe and by 2017 will be more than twice as fast. And the US is also stretching its lead over Asia.
Genachowski continued: “We are right in the middle of a global bandwidth race – every country is trying to find its strategic bandwidth advantage. The US is in strong shape but in order to continue its current trajectory it needs to recognise there is a lot of work to do and that competitive global dynamics will only speed up.”
The former FCC chief also heralded the impact of broadband wireless on economic activity, claiming the ‘broadband grid’ is having the same economic effect today as the ‘electricity grid’ had in the twentieth century. “Broadband wireless is today’s platform for economic activity,” he said. “It’s comparable to the way electricity was a similar platform in the 20th century; something on which everything else gets built. Fridges, computers, radios were built on top of the electric grid last century – in the broadband world it’s applications that are built on broadband wireless. Just as we revolutionsed electricity in the 20th century, now we have to do it with the broadband grid in the 21st century.”
Genachowski’s appearance in London was one of his first public interviews since stepping down from his FCC post last month. US President Barack Obama has nominated Tom Wheeler as the next chairman of the country’s national regulator.