Perhaps the biggest news of the week was the agenda for the Federal Communications Commission's July 10 Open Meeting, which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai laid out in a blog post on June 18, 2019. I'm traveling to New York this week; below is a shorter-than-usual weekly that takes a look at how Chairman Pai plans to take education out of the Educational Broadband Service -- and broadcast television.
On October 25, 2018, President Donald Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum ordering federal agencies to review their existing spectrum usage, forecast future demands, and prepare a plan for research and development that will enable better use of spectrum in the future.
An FCC auction of the T-band is a bad idea. But as of today, the law mandates that we do it. It’s unfortunate that Commission resources must be dedicated to laying the groundwork for an auction that will likely fail. This is especially true at a time when we are making every effort to keep Americans safe and connected, including allowing expanded temporary use of this very spectrum to help first responders save lives.
Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai requesting that the FCC use C-band auction funds to purchase satellites from US manufacturers to support American workers and families. “Given that U.S. taxpayers are effectively footing the bill for these assets—assets that are already owned by the taxpayer—it makes good sense to require an investment in the American industrial base.
Intelsat is seeking backers for a bankruptcy loan that would keep the satellite service in business under Chapter 11 court protection while it’s waiting for billions of dollars in proceeds from a government spectrum auction. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing would allow Intelsat to address its $14 billion debt load as federal regulators head toward an auction of C-Band satellite spectrum. Intelsat needs to spend $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion to prepare its spectrum for sale, and it could net up to $4.8 billion for handing over its C-Band by certain deadlines.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has circulated a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking aiming to establish a 5G Fund for Rural America, which would distribute up to $9 billion across the country for 5G connectivity. The 5G Fund would use the Universal Service Fund to specifically target rural areas that would not see timely deployment of 5G service absent support and are not likely to be covered by the T-Mobile transaction commitments.
The Federal Communications Commission released the winners in Auction 103 of 5G millimeter wave spectrum in the 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz bands, and it looks like the nation’s largest mobile carriers won the vast majority of the spectrum. The auction raised a total of more than $7.5 billion. The largest winner was Straight Path Spectrum LLC, which won 4,940 out of 14,142 licenses won and which appears to be a bidding name for Verizon. The second largest winner was Fiber Tower Spectrum Holdings, LLC, which won 3,267 licenses and which appears to be a bidding name for AT&T.
The Federal Communications Commission announced the conclusion of bidding in Auction 103, which made 3,400 megahertz of millimeter-wave spectrum available in the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands. The auction had a total of $7,558,703,201 in net bids, with 28 bidders winning a total of 14,142 of 14,144, or more than 99.9%, of available licenses. “The successful conclusion of Auction 103—the largest amount of spectrum offered in an auction in US history—is one more significant step the FCC has taken toward maintaining American leadership in 5G,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
A coalition of organizations representing state and local governments released the following statement in response to hearings on the FY 2021 Budget Request for Federal Communication Commission before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on March 10 and before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government on March 11:
Big Tech and Big Telecom are wrangling over a Federal Communications Commission plan that would open up an unprecedented amount of airwaves to meet the nation’s Wi-Fi demand. The FCC is expected to vote before the end of April on a plan that may quintuple the amount of spectrum available to handle data from millions of Wi-Fi-connected smartphones, laptops, and other devices.