FCC chairman requests more time to develop National Broadband Plan

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski last week requested Congress grant the agency a one-month deadline extension to present lawmakers with a National Broadband Plan.

In a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Genachowski asked for the deadline to be moved back until March 17.

The request responds to “the unprecedented record developed during the comment and workshop period,” the letter said. The commission has conducted more than 50 public workshops and field hearings and “issued more than a dozen public notices to prepare the plan.” More time “will enable the FCC to continue to obtain input from key stakeholders and more fully brief commissioners and the House and Senate Committees” on various parts of the plan, it said.

Among the stakeholders with a keen interest in what the FCC does are TV broadcasters. Proposals from CTIA, the association representing the wireless industry, and others have proposed stripping broadcasters of all or some of their spectrum to satisfy expected future demand for wireless broadband access.

The TV industry and its associations, including the NAB and the Association for Maximum Service Television, have countered with various arguments ranging from questioning the underlying assumption that more wireless spectrum will be needed to building the case that TV broadcasters are an unmatched source of news and information in their local communities.

Genachowski sent his request for more time to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-WV, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-TX; Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; and Rep. Joe Barton, R-TX.