Justice Dept. to FCC: U.S. Needs More Spectrum

The U.S. Justice Department is calling on the FCC to open more spectrum to handle high-speed wireless Internet services.

FCC officials, including Chairman Julius Genachowski, already have warned that demand for mobile data soon will outpace network capacity, so the Justice Department’s plea should fall on receptive ears.

The Justice Department filed comments on Monday with the FCC, which is seeking input on the formation of a national broadband plan.

Besides fears over capacity, Justice policymakers further cited mobile spectrum’s ability to bring broadband to underserved areas and promote broadband competition. However, it said, when distributing spectrum, the FCC must keep in mind how companies such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. could concentrate their reach even more. Indeed, the carriers might well have an incentive to push wireline services over wireless, Justice Department officials said.

“If wireline providers charge more for service packages that involve greater speeds and/or higher usage limits, consumers purchasing these packages may not enjoy the benefits of competition from wireless broadband, or may do so only indirectly to the extent that consumers as a whole display a willingness to substitute slower wireless service for faster wireline service,” the agency said in its filing.

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