Ina Fried

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FCC Chairman Has New Tablet, but Same Script: More Spectrum!

Julius Genachowski on Wednesday made yet another call for Congress to speedily allow incentive auctions to free up badly needed spectrum for the wireless industry.

But while the content in the FCC chairman’s speech was familiar, his vehicle for delivering it was different. He’s given many speeches reading from a tablet, as he did in Vegas, but this was the first time he had done so on an Android model — a Samsung Galaxy 8.9.

“I’ve only done them on the iPad,” Genachowski said. “On my smartphones I’ve tried to make it a practice to switch them up.”

So how was it?

“It was all good,” Genachowski said, showing off his remarks on the Galaxy tab. His trusty iPad was nearby, which he used to dash off a quick email before our interview. “It was a seamless experience.”

As for the content of his talk, Genachowski focused on several points that are near and dear to his heart — first, that Congress enable the auctions quickly, and second, that it leave the FCC the option of keeping some of the spectrum freed up for unlicensed purposes.

“It would be a very serious mistake to pass incentive legislation and prohibit the FCC from using some spectrum for unlicensed (uses),” he said, echoing comments he made on a Silicon Valley swing late last year.

Such uses, he said, allow innovation that could provide for even more efficient spectrum usage than limiting it only to licensed purposes.

“We may see innovations there that lead to more efficient use,” he said. “To me, it’s a no-brainer.”

Genachowski said that allowing those with unused spectrum to auction it off could allow for the recovery of 100MHz of very high quality spectrum near the 700MHz band used for today’s 4G services.

“The work doesn’t end with incentive auctions, but incentive auctions are a sure way to provide very significant relief to spectrum.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald