Category Archives: Federal Communications Commission

Some Thoughts on the FCC’s New Interoperability NPRM…

Posted on by

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued an interesting Notice of Proposed Rulemaking or “NPRM.”  Basically, the FCC announced that assuming that some technical glitches can be worked out (and the agency was optimistic that they could), the FCC would like to see—either by voluntary agreement or by regulatory fiat—interoperability for mobile devices and equipment in the lower 700 MHz band. The agency’s rulemaking appears to be motivated by the desire to promote handset availability for the smaller and rural operators that purchased A block licenses in the 2008 auction.  According to these carriers, given their given their small Continue Reading »

Curbing the FCC’s Ability to Impose “Voluntary” Merger Commitments…

Posted on by

Over my eighteen years in the telecommunications business, one of my biggest pet peeves has been the politicization of the Federal Communication Commission’s merger review process.  As I noted in a paper entitled Separating Politics from Policy in FCC Merger Reviews: A Basic Legal Primer of the “Public Interest” Standard I authored with my former colleague Tom Koutsky back in 2007 and subsequently published in an academic journal in 2010, my issue is not that the concept of the “public interest” is vague (it is not), but that both sides of the aisle conveniently ignore the relevant caselaw when it Continue Reading »

Should Content Providers be Allowed to Contribute to the Cost of Mobile Bandwidth?

Posted on by

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal caught my attention, and I’m sure the attention of many others.  The article—AT&T May Try Billing App Makers (February 28, 2012)—reported that AT&T and content providers were discussing ways in which the providers of mobile content, like video streaming, could pay for (in whole or part) the cost of the data traffic on behalf of the end user.  According to the article, the interest in a content-payer system is being encouraged by content developers that “could use the feature to drum up new business from customers wary of using data-heavy services like Continue Reading »

Are Spectrum Caps Back?

Posted on by

As the old saying goes, “be careful what you wish for.”  Well, in the case of spectrum policy, we got our wish this month when President Obama signed into law the Payroll Tax Extension bill which contained sweeping provisions to free up much-needed new commercial spectrum. While the implementation of the specific provisions of such ambitious legislation will no doubt be complex and arduous, I would like to touch on two general themes in this particular post. First, we at the Phoenix Center are very proud that our research helped contribute to get the D Block assigned to public safety Continue Reading »

Thoughts About Today’s Oversight Hearing on the FCC’s Budget and Spending…

Posted on by

Earlier today, the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held an oversight hearing on entitled “The Budget and Spending of the Federal Communications Commission.”  Given the growing size of the federal bureaucracy, conducting this sort of oversight is indeed welcome news. In his opening statement, Committee Chairman Greg Walden noted that “Last year, the FCC was given a budget of $424.8 million, and the FCC has reported that it can maintain current services with a budget of $421.2 million.  Although that’s less than a one percent decrease, it’s a start, and I appreciate the Continue Reading »

I Can “C” (Block) Clearly Now About Spectrum Auctions…

Posted on by

The FCC, in its National Broadband Plan, concluded that U.S. commercial mobile carriers desperately need more spectrum, describing an industry operating with “just a fraction of the amount that will be necessary to match growing demand.”  Echoing the concern, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski cautioned that “without action, demand for spectrum will soon outstrip supply. … If we don’t tackle the spectrum crunch now, network congestion will grow, and consumer frustration will grow with it.” In response, Congress is working on a partial solution to the impending shortfall, including authorizing the FCC to conduct an auction in which broadcasters voluntarily transfer Continue Reading »

Wireless Competition Under Spectrum Exhaust (CliffsNotes Edition)…

Posted on by

As noted in our earlier blog posts, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski seems to be of two minds when it comes to spectrum policy.  On one hand, he has taken great pains throughout his tenure to warn about the crucial issue of spectrum exhaust for commercial spectrum.  As also noted in our earlier blog posts, the FCC under Chairman Genachowski has at the same time expressed grave concerns about the concentrated nature of the U.S. wireless market in its CMRS Reports and, as such, has condemned large transactions such as AT&T/T-Mobile and imposed a de facto spectrum cap when it approved Continue Reading »

The Effect of Spectrum Exhaust on Mobile Market Structure and Performance…

Posted on by

In an effort to address the current spectrum crunch for commercial spectrum, Congress is working on legislation to empower the FCC to hold voluntary incentive auctions to facilitate the transfer spectrum from broadcasters to mobile carriers.  FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, among others, are complaining loudly that the House version of the bill unduly constricts the FCC’s ability to manipulate the mobile industry by excluding some bidders from the auction (primarily the nation’s two most successful wireless firms that a little more than half of all Americans have chosen as their wireless carrier).  As Larry explained in a post dated January Continue Reading »

Data Roaming, Spectrum Auctions, and the Widening of the Broadband Credibility Gap…

Posted on by

As I noted in my January 17th blog post, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is complaining loudly that the bill now pending before the House Energy & Commerce Committee would unduly constrict the agency’s ability to condition any voluntary incentive auction for much-needed beachfront broadcast spectrum.  Recently, former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt came to his protégé’s defense, noting that: no one will benefit if Congress insists on telling the FCC—as the House bill does—who is eligible to bid or how the auction should be conducted. To have an efficient, fair, unpoliticized, neutral, pro-market auction the FCC should continue to be an Continue Reading »

Why GigaOM has it Wrong on the Comcast/Verizon Spectrum Deal…

Posted on by

This past Sunday, Kevin Fitchard wrote a piece in GigaOm entitled If Comcast Can’t Make It in the Wireless Biz, Who Can?  In this piece, Mr. Fitchard laments that Comcast’s decision to sell its AWS spectrum to, and enter into a joint marketing agreement with, Verizon, rather than construct their own 4G network, “raises some troubling questions about the state of the U.S. wireless industry.”  According to Mr. Fitchard, “if a company with a $71 billion market cap and deep roots in the telecom service provider business can’t make a go of the wireless business, what hope is there for Continue Reading »