Federal Communications Commission

Remarks of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai At The Citizens Against Government Waste Policy Breakfast

The single largest driver of the increase in the Universal Service Fund (USF) -- and hence, consumers’ phone bills -- has been the Lifeline program. Unfortunately, however, Lifeline has been laced with fraud.

So here are four simple steps that we should take to further reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program.

First, the time has come to put the Lifeline program on a budget. Second, we must reduce the financial incentives for people to commit Lifeline fraud. One option would be to prohibit wireless carriers participating in Lifeline from giving away free phone service to Lifeline recipients. A second option would be to empower the states to play a stronger role in helping to police the program. A third option would be to review the size of the current Lifeline subsidy -- $9.25 per month -- and ask whether it’s too high, given that it often pays for the entire cost of a monthly phone bill.

Third, the FCC should fill the gaps in its rules that still encourage fraudulent behavior.

And fourth, the FCC must step up its enforcement efforts.

Pleading Cycle Established For Comments On Electric Power Board And City Of Wilson Petitions Seeking Preemption Of State Laws Restricting The Deployment Of Certain Broadband Network

On July 24, 2014, the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the City of Wilson, North Carolina, filed separate petitions asking that the Federal Communications Commission act pursuant to section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 19961 to preempt portions of Tennessee and North Carolina state statutes that restrict their ability to provide broadband services. The FCC is allowing the public until August 29 to file comments in the proceeding and until September 29 to file reply comments.

FCC Requests Comment On Implementation Of CSRIC III Cybersecurity Best Practices

In March 2012, the FCC’s third Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC III) unanimously adopted voluntary recommendations for Internet service providers (ISPs) to combat three major cybersecurity threats: (1) botnet attacks; (2) domain name fraud; and (3) Internet route hijacking.

The FCC seeks comment from ISPs, the Internet community, consumer organizations, and the broader public on the implementation and effectiveness of the CSRIC III recommendations and/or alternatives that stakeholders have developed since the time of the CSRIC’s original work to address these challenges; and on the implementation status and effectiveness of voluntary recommendations, or alternatives, by ISPs and other members of the Internet community.

The FCC is particularly interested in comment on the following questions as they relate to the four broad areas of CSRIC’s best practices:

  • What progress have stakeholders made in implementing the recommendations?
  • What barriers have stakeholders encountered in implementing the recommendations?
  • What significant success stories or breakthroughs have been achieved in implementing the recommendations?
  • What are stakeholders’ views and/or plans for full implementation of the recommendations?
  • How effective are the recommendations at mitigating cyber risk when they have been implemented?

Statement On Order Conditionally Granting The Sinclair Allbritton Transaction

The Federal Communications Commission’s Media Bureau adopted an Order approving the $985 million Sinclair/Allbritton transaction after the parties agreed to amend the proposal in three markets to comply with our ownership rules:

  • Consistent with Department of Justice review, Sinclair will divest the station in the Harrisburg market.
  • To comply with our local TV ownership rule, Sinclair will deliver the programming of stations in the Birmingham and Charleston markets via digital multicasting. This means that Sinclair will put the full programming of the stations on the digital signal of the stations it already owns. The licenses of the Allbritton stations that previously broadcast that programming will therefore be returned to the FCC. Most importantly, consumers will lose no programming currently available to them.
  • The originally proposed sidecar arrangements with Howard Stirk Holdings and Deerfield will not be included in the transaction.
  • To comply with our local TV ownership rule, Sinclair will terminate an improper sharing arrangement in the Charleston, South Carolina market.

[Lake is Chief of the FCC Media Bureau]

Statement Of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai On Three TV Stations Going Dark Following Review Of The Sinclair/Allbritton Transaction

The Federal Communications Commission’s crackdown on joint sales agreements claims three more victims: two television stations in the Birmingham, Alabama market (WCFT and WJSU) and one television station in Charleston, South Carolina (WCIV).

How does this outcome serve the cause of diversity? And how does this outcome serve the cause of competition?

In Charleston, South Carolina, for example, WCIV would have been owned and operated by Howard Stirk Holdings, an African-American owned broadcast company. But apparently the FCC believes that it is better for that station to go out of business than for Howard Stirk Holdings to own the station and participate in a joint sales agreement with Sinclair. I strongly disagree.

Dissenting Statement Of Commissioner Ajit Pai On Grain Waiver

The Federal Communications Commission jettisons this entire framework by waiving the attributable material relationship (AMR) rule -- for the benefit of Grain Management, a private equity firm that leases 100 percent of the spectrum capacity of all of its licenses to the two largest wireless carriers in the country. This decision cannot be justified under the FCC’s waiver law, since waiving the AMR rule here eviscerates -- rather than promotes -- the purpose of the rule.

The FCC’s suggestion that the rationale underlying the AMR rule does not apply when an applicant obtained its spectrum licenses without the benefit of bidding credits simply cannot be squared with either the text of the rule or the reasoning of the FCC decision that adopted it.

In addition, the FCC’s claim that Grain’s leasing agreements do not support any inference of undue influence flatly contradicts its determinations in the context of joint sales agreements among broadcast television stations.

Finally, the decision will likely produce anomalous results, inject needless uncertainty into the FCC’s auction process, and invite arbitrageurs to make creative end-runs around our AMR rules -- all of which is unnecessary given the upcoming DE rulemaking. For all these reasons, I dissent.

FCC Chairman Wheeler Announces Stolen Mobile Device Working Group Members

The Federal Communications Commission announced the members of the Technological Advisory Council’s (TAC) Working Group on Mobile Device Theft Prevention.

The Council, comprised of a wide array of leading technical experts, supports the Commission’s identification of areas for innovation and development of technology policies promoting America’s competitiveness in the global economy.

The working group will report its findings and recommendations to the full Technological Advisory Council, which then will bring forward its recommendations to the Commission. The TAC is chaired by Dennis Roberson, IIT.

Chairs of Mobile Device Theft Prevention Working Group

  • Brian Daly, Director of Core Network and Government/Regulatory Standards, AT&T and member of the Technological Advisory Council
  • Robert Kubik, Director of Communications Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Samsung.

Members of the Mobile Device Theft Prevention Working Group

  • Asaf Askenazi, Director of Product Management, Qualcomm
  • Jay Barbour, Certified Information Systems Security Professional and Security Director, Blackberry
  • Brad Blanken, Vice President of Industry Development, Competitive Carriers Association
  • Craig Boswell, President, Hobi
  • Eric Feldman, Associate Deputy Assistant Director, Cyber Crimes Center, Department of Homeland Security
  • John Foust, Special Assistant, Executive Office of the Chief of Police, Washington (DC) Metropolitan Police Department
  • Les Gray, Chief Operations Officer, Recipero
  • Joe Heaps, Policy Advisor, National Institute of Justice
  • Gary Jones, Senior Director and Head of Technical Standards Policy, T-Mobile
  • Sang Kim, Principal Researcher, LG
  • Jake Laperruque, Fellow on Privacy, Surveillance, and Security, Center for Democracy and Technology
  • John Marinho, Vice President of Technology and CyberSecurity, CTIA – The Wireless Association
  • Special Agent Samuel Messinger, US Secret Service
  • Jason Novak, Manager of Privacy Engineering, Apple
  • Kirthika Parmeswaran, Principal Solutions Architect, Ericsson
  • Greg Post, President, Recipero (Alternate)
  • Ian Robertson, Vice President of Security, Engineering, and Innovation, Motorola Mobility
  • Deepti Rohatgi, Mobile Security Policy Advisor, Lookout
  • Mark Romer, Senior Director, Asurion Mobile Applications
  • Mike Rou, Senior Manager, eBay
  • Matt Rowe, Vice President and General Counsel, Gazelle
  • Special Agent Christian Schorle, FBI Newark, Cyber Task Force
  • David Strumwasser, Principal Member of Technical Staff, Verizon
  • Maxwell Szabo, Legislative Affairs and Policy Manager, Office of District Attorney George Gascón
  • Nick Tucker, Program Manager, Microsoft
  • Samir Vaidya, Director of Technology, Verizon (Alternate).

The IP Transition: Great Expectations Or Bleak House?

The fact that the marketplace is embracing the IP Transition means we’re in the best of times. However, the government seems to be stuck in neutral when it comes to modernizing its regulatory framework to account for the IP Transition. What’s sidetracked us?

Our efforts have been plagued by three critical mistakes.

First, we are bogged down in brouhahas from the past. Second, we are failing to seize the present. When it comes to embracing the IP Transition, we can’t keep putting off until the unspecified future the things we can and should do today, starting with modernizing our rules. Third, we are becoming crippled by fear of the future. Embracing creative destruction means that something must be abandoned -- and that something is the PSTN.

Auction Of Advanced Wireless Services (AWS-3) Licenses Scheduled For November 13, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau establishes the procedures, reserve prices, and minimum opening bid amounts for the upcoming auction of 1,614 Advanced Wireless Services licenses in the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz bands (collectively, the “AWS-3” bands).

This auction is scheduled to start on November 13, 2014.

Open Internet Transparency Rule Enforcement Advisory

Providers of broadband Internet access services must disclose accurate information about their service offerings and make this information accessible to the public. This requirement, known as the Open Internet Transparency Rule, has been in full force and effect since 2011.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, “Consumers deserve to get the broadband service they pay for. After today, no broadband provider can claim they didn’t know we were watching to see that they disclose accurate information about the services they provide. The FCC’s transparency rule requires that consumers get the information they need to make informed choices about the broadband services they purchase. We expect providers to be fully transparent about the details of their services, and we will hold them accountable if they fall down on this obligation to consumers.”