Federal Communications Commission

FCC Proposes to Make 150 MHz of Spectrum Available for Broadband

The Federal Communications Commission took steps to provide more spectrum for general consumer use, carrier-grade small cell deployments, fixed wireless broadband services, and other innovative uses, through the creation of a new Citizens Broadband Radio Service.

The FCC proposed rules for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service in a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that advances the Commission’s efforts to meet the growing demand for spectrum by proposing to make 150 megahertz available in the 3.5 GHz Band. The FNPRM proposes innovative spectrum sharing techniques to unlock the value of the spectrum between 3550 MHz and 3650 MHz, and seeks comment on extending the proposed service to 3700 MHz.

Specifically, the FNPRM proposes a three-tiered access and sharing model comprised of federal and non-federal incumbents, priority access licensees, and general authorized access users. Together, the proposals seek to promote flexibility and innovation by leveraging advancements in technology to facilitate sharing between different users and uses, including incumbent government uses.

Federal and non-federal incumbents would be protected from harmful interference from Citizens Broadband Radio Service users. Targeted priority access licenses would be made available for a variety of uses, including mobile broadband.

General authorized access use would be permitted in a reserved amount of spectrum and on an opportunistic basis for a variety of consumer or business-oriented purposes, including advanced home wireless networking. Access and operation within the 3.5 GHz band would be managed by a spectrum access system, a dynamic database or databases that incorporates technical and functional requirements necessary to manage access and operations across the three tiers. In addition, the FNPRM seeks comment on technical, auction, and allocation rules.

FCC Takes Major Strides Toward Further Expansion Of Rural Broadband

The Federal Communications Commission took significant steps toward implementing the next phase of its program for expanding robust broadband in rural America, the Connect America Fund.

Phase I of the Connect America Fund has already invested over $438 million to deploy broadband service to 1.6 million previously unserved Americans. Phase I also invested $300 million to expand advanced mobile wireless service and nearly $50 million for better mobile voice and broadband on Tribal lands.

Phase II the Connect America Fund will result in a nearly 70% increase in annual support for broadband and voice service in areas served by the nation’s largest traditional local providers -- known as “price cap” carriers.

The effort will expand broadband access to an additional 5 million Americans who are currently unable to benefit from the opportunities of 21st century communications. Over five years, Phase II of the Connect America Fund will provide nearly $9 billion to expand broadband in rural areas.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Statement on Phone Rates

The data released by the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau show why the agency shouldn’t increase rural Americans’ phone bills.

The FCC’s so-called “rate floor” is supposed to ensure that urban and rural rates are “comparable.” But even though the Bureau’s data reveal that the local phone rate in Washington, DC is $14.10, the FCC is on the precipice of raising rates for rural Americans from $14.00 to $20.46. As a result, rural Americans will have to pay 45 percent more for local phone service than those living in our nation’s capital.

On top of all that, this rate increase will not save the government any money. This issue is another example of why so many in our nation’s heartland feel so alienated from Washington, DC. Too often, there is one set of rules for those inside the Beltway and another set of rules for everyone else. I hope the Commission will reconsider this ill-conceived policy and not raise rural Americans’ phone bills to no end.

Getting the Incentive Auction Right

The Incentive Auction is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand the benefits of mobile wireless coverage and competition to consumers across the Nation -- particularly consumers in rural areas -- offering more choices of wireless providers, lower prices, and higher quality mobile services.

Getting the Incentive Auction right will revolutionize how spectrum is allocated. By marrying the economics of demand (think wireless providers) with the economics of current spectrum holders (think television broadcasters), the Incentive Auction will allow market forces to determine the highest and best use of spectrum.

In developing such an auction, we must also be guided by the rules of physics. Not all spectrum frequencies are created equal. Spectrum below 1 GHz – such as the Incentive Auction spectrum – has physical properties that increase the reach of mobile networks over long distances. As part of the Incentive Auction process, we will also make available on a nationwide basis spectrum for unlicensed use (think Wi-Fi).

With the increased use of Wi-Fi, this spectrum has also become congested. Opening up more spectrum for unlicensed use provides economic value to businesses and consumers alike. Whether television broadcasters participate in the Incentive Auction will be purely voluntary, but participation in the Incentive Auction does not mean they have to leave the TV business. New channel-sharing technologies offer broadcasters a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an infusion of cash to expand their business model and explore new innovations, while continuing to provide their traditional services to consumers.

We will ensure that broadcasters have all of the information they need to make informed business decisions about whether and how to participate. On April 17, I provided my fellow Commissioners a draft Report and Order that will determine many significant issues and policy decisions related to the Incentive Auction. The Commission will also make additional decisions to implement details pertaining to the Incentive Auction in the coming months.

Technology Transitions and Public Safety Workshop and Online Forum

The Federal Communications Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is hosting a workshop April 17, 2014, on the impact of technology transition on public safety.

Representatives from public safety agencies, service providers, technology vendors, and other stakeholders will participate in roundtable discussions to explore the impact of the retirement of switched telecommunications service (PSTN, TDM), the anticipated interdependencies and new failure modalities for IP transport, copper to fiber transition and copper to wireless transition.

The workshop will identify areas of risk associated with the planned IP Transition and determine risk factors for key public safety, emergency response, and national security functions.

Remarks of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Before The University Of Pennsylvania Law School South Asian Law Students Association

I’m a big believer in the benefits of diversity. And one of its most important forms is intellectual diversity.

When it comes to issues of the day, South Asian-Americans, just like other minority communities in our country, don’t speak with one voice. There are South Asian-American liberals, conservatives, and moderates. There are South Asian-American Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. This is how it should be.

Like the subcontinent itself, South Asian-Americans are diverse in every way. Our particular upbringing and heritage influences the way many of us see the world. I’ll never be able to dance bhangra properly; some of you might not savor idlis, sambar, and bisibelebath as much as I do. More broadly speaking, my view is that as a society, we should get away from the notion that if you have a certain skin color, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, you should think a certain way. And if you don’t think that way, you are somehow betraying your roots or identity.

Each of us is unique. And each of us has the right, and I’d argue the obligation, to make up our own mind. We should embrace the diversity within our community and insist that those outside of our community recognize it as well.

Commissioner Clyburn Remarks at FCC Library Open House

Very soon you will access library research content via cloud computing, which promises to increase the ease with which we are able to conduct research activities, both on-site and off.

Through the new cloud feature, teleworking staff will access the e-library homepage on the Intranet enabling them to use vetted research content directly from the library’s databases. Web-based content and features are routinely evolving, and our Library continuously reviews its database offerings to provide us with the capability to perform research from our desktops.

But their work does not stop there. If the library staff finds that the resources you need are not available onsite or online, they will not hesitate to contact regional libraries, including the Library of Congress, to obtain materials for you to conduct the level of research needed to complete your task.

That Connection to Information stretches far beyond our professional needs, and is widely used by all types of libraries. Thus, it is fitting that there are representatives here from area public libraries, showcasing just how technology can be used by all of our citizens. Today’s learning centers -- because libraries are learning centers -- are more than repositories for books and are light years away from that single room filled with periodicals.

FCC Confirms Agenda for April 23 Open Meeting

The Federal Communications Commission will hold an Open Meeting on April 23, 2014. The FCC will consider:

  1. A Report and Order, Declaratory Ruling, Order, Memorandum Opinion and Order, and Seventh Order on Reconsideration taking significant steps to continue the implementation of the landmark reforms adopted in the 2011 USF/ICC Transformation Order to modernize universal service for the 21st century. An accompanying Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposes measures to update and further implement the framework adopted by the Commission in 2011.
  2. A Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would implement an innovative three-tier spectrum sharing approach to make up to 150 megahertz of spectrum available for wireless broadband use in the 3550-3700 MHz band.
  3. A Memorandum Opinion and Order concerning an Application for Review filed by Entravision Holdings seeking review of a decision by the Media Bureau granting an application by Able Radio Corporation.
  4. A Memorandum Opinion and Order concerning an Application for Review filed by Puerto Rico Public Broadcasting Corporation seeking review of a waiver request dismissal by the Media Bureau.
  5. A Memorandum Opinion and Order concerning an Application for Review filed by William B. Clay seeking review of a minor modification grant by the Media Bureau.
  6. A Memorandum Opinion and Order concerning an Application for Review filed by Galaxy Syracuse Licensee LLC seeking review of a waiver request denial by the Media Bureau.
  7. A Memorandum Opinion and Order concerning a joint Application for Review filed by Clear Creek Radio, Inc., Fraser Valley Community Media, Inc., The North Fork Angling Society, and RV Ministries, Inc., seeking review of a waiver request denial by the Media Bureau.

Broadcasting Anew

[Commentary] It is always special to be in attendance at the annual National Association of Broadcasters Show, and 2014 was no exception.

What I took away from our discussion was the realization that today's media universe can no longer be viewed through myopic lenses and historic silos, and that the demarcation between over-the-air, cable, Internet and satellite broadcasting makes erstwhile legacy distinctions much harder to maintain.

Secondly, I always appreciate the chance to walk the show floor to see, firsthand, the innovative developments in broadcast technology.

Finally, the NAB provides a unique opportunity for regulators to talk to the industry professionals and operators who do not typically make it to Washington to lobby on policy issues. These real-world workers provide us with a perspective that is both realistic and refreshing, and I always learn more than I leave behind.

FCC Launches 2014 Media Ownership Rules Review

The Federal Communications Commission’s ongoing 2010 Quadrennial Review of broadcast ownership rules has generated a high level of interest and participation, creating an extensive record that continues to attract significant and substantive input well after the formal comment periods have expired.

Such participation demonstrates that the FCC’s broadcast ownership rules continue to be of importance and interest to market participants, public watchdogs, and consumers alike. The FCC wishes to build on that record to resolve the ongoing 2010 proceeding, and the Commission is cognizant of its statutory obligation to review the broadcast ownership rules every four years.

To accomplish both objectives, with this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) the FCC is initiating this 2014 Quadrennial Review; incorporating the existing 2010 record into this proceeding; proposing rules that are formulated based on the evaluation of that existing record; and seeking new and additional information and data on market conditions and competitive indicators as they exist today.

Ultimately, the rules the FCC adopts in this 2014 proceeding will be based on a comprehensive, refreshed record that reflects the most current evidence regarding the media marketplace. The FCC also considers related issues posed in the 2010 Quadrennial Review proceeding concerning the attribution and disclosure of agreements between broadcast stations, and in the accompanying Report and Order, the FCC determines that certain television joint sales agreements (JSAs) are attributable.