12/24/2012 12:56 pm ET

FCC's Holiday Message to Silicon Valley: We're Serious About Supporting an IP Future


Silicon Valley just got an early and welcome holiday gift from the Federal Communications Commission. Recently, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that the FCC is forming a Technology Transitions Policy Task Force to encourage and support the transition to high-speed advanced next generation networks, such as Internet Protocol (IP)-based networks.

Of course, as with many gifts, there is some assembly required, but it has enormous potential. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai put it best: "Our goal in this effort should be as simple as it is profound: to develop sound proposals for hastening the IP transition and incentivizing investment in next-generation networks."

Both Commissioner Pai and Chairman Genachowski made it clear that the task force will strive to modernize communications regulations and clarify the regulatory landscape for providers who plan to invest in IP-based networks capable of delivering the next best devices, applications and services to consumers

And to appreciate just how much and how quickly the communications ecosystem has evolved, just consider this snippet of holiday nostalgia. Not all that long ago phone service would jam up around the holidays. If you picked up the phone in San Jose to call the folks back on the East Coast, you'd often be told that all circuits were busy and to try placing your call later. Our communications infrastructure was overwhelmed once a year just trying to meet the demand for simple voice calls.

So much for the good ol' days. Today, advanced broadband Internet Protocol ("IP") based networks are carrying all kinds of data -- voice, text, video, Internet -- at super-fast speeds through all kinds of providers such as cable companies, traditional telephone companies, and wireless carriers. IP-based technology has left the days of simple phone calls far behind.

Americans today think nothing of using advanced networks to share videos, tweets and emails along with phone calls, anytime, anywhere. We're enjoying the benefits of a consumer-driven revolution in communications technology that cuts across all walks of life and is creating more opportunities in health care, education, business, public safety and beyond. But there's no doubt this continuing revolution needs a flourishing Silicon Valley and mega private investment such as the $1.2 trillion from the communications industry since 1996.

Smart regulation in sync with our fast expanding technology would help keep the benefits of this revolution flowing. And the creation of the new FCC task force is a welcome step in that direction. Silicon Valley companies have both an economic interest and a national responsibility to provide input for the task force and to stay closely tuned in to the policy issues in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, season's greetings to the FCC and kudos for taking this important step to supporting an IP future.