Without giving any time frame, the FCC chief also noted his agency is "working with stakeholders" on allowing LTE in the "L band" historically reserved for satellites. That's where LightSquared has sought to deploy a controversial national LTE network. LightSquared, now bankrupt, had its earlier plans shot down by the FCC and recently proposed a new plan that would include a spectrum swap with the government.
The moves Genachowski laid out on Thursday should help build up capacity and keep several competitive carriers supplied with spectrum, said analyst Tim Farrar of TMF Associates. But the planning and building of networks is yet to come, he cautioned.
"No one's going to notice a difference next year because of what he's announcing today," Farrar said. Even the most immediate developments probably won't yield new networks or added performance for two or three years, he said.
In light of this, it's likely the FCC will hand out strict buildout timelines along with the spectrum licenses, Farrar said. When it approved Verizon's acquisition of spectrum from a group of cable companies earlier this year, the agency forced a faster rollout of the network to make sure the spectrum got used, he said. "There've been people who sat on spectrum in the past," Farrar said.