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FCW : April 30, 2013
28 April 30, 2013 FCW.COM Wireless spectrum "If we had comparable spectrum to move to, the money from the auction todoitandthetimetodoit,weare in favor of relocating to alternative spectrum and freeing that spectrum up for commercial broadband users," Moore eld said. But a number of obstacles stand in the way, Moore eld said, and part of the problem is a holdup at the FCC. Due to "the challenges that the FCC is having to displace the broadcasters out of the comparable spectrum that we need access to...we don t have any- where to move the federal or military system," he said. Given the mind-numbing intricacies and technical challenges involved with moving DOD away from the 1755-1850 MHz band, the government is empha- sizing a shared solution. "The best solution right now is to It can take a long time to get an answer from the Federal Communications Com- mission. At an oversight hearing last summer, for example, two members of Congress asked about peti- tions that had been pend- ing for more than eight years. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai thinks technology could be part of the answer to making proceedings at the agency more transpar- ent and easier to monitor. Although only 40 years old, Pai is about to become the senior Republican on the Democrat-led commis- sion, thanks to the impending retire- ment of longtime commissioner Robert McDowell. "Sometimes it can seem to people who aren t in Washington that the FCC, or any federal agency for that matter, explore ways of sharing," Moore eld said. Larry Strickling, NTIA s administra- tor, echoes that sentiment. NTIA "is working with industry and the agen- cies to explore innovative approach- es that would allow federal and non- federal users to share the same swaths of spectrum," he said, noting that the government also has a growing need for those frequencies. Publicly, industry leaders also want to nd ways to share, but behind the scenes, they are pushing for DOD to clear that space. Industry executives regularly meet with key staffers on Capitol Hill to keep up the pressure. "We explained to the staff why this spectrum is so important and why we think DOD can move," one lobbyist for the technology industry said regard- ing a recent meeting with the Senate Commerce, Science and Transporta- tion Committee. One sliver of the contested band of spectrum is already slated for auction. To the delight of industry and lawmak- ers, outgoing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski recently announced the agency s intention to auction off the 1755-1780 MHz space as early as September 2014. Early on, the FCC had identi ed that particular section as low-hanging fruit; dealing with the remaining 70 MHz will continue to be a struggle. In the meantime, Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T are working with DOD to explore ways to share the 1755-1850 MHz band, while some industry vet- erans advocate for more oversight of what DOD actually needs. "The important question for Con- gress to be asking is are those [military] is pretty far removed from the indus- try they are purporting to regulate and from the people who are supposed to bene t from the work of that industry, " Pai said. "To be able to make our processes and decisions more transparent to them is a good thing. " The FCC plays a crucial role in the telecommunica- tions industry as regulator, rulemaker and arbiter of consumer complaints. Stake- holders can offer their advice to the FCC through an online ling process that is acces- sible to the public, journalists, industry analysts and other interested parties. Although experienced users can navigate FCC proceedings, the system, which sprawls across two websites, can be baf ing to novices. More to the point, there s no easy way to nd out the status of a request, petition or complaint. Pai said an online dashboard could go a long way toward making the FCC answerable to industry stakeholders, Congress and the public. Although the FCC chairman is responsible for manag- ing the agency, Pai is using his bully pulpit to drum up support for his idea among industry stakeholders. In his dream website, users could track the FCC s progress on license renewals, con- sumer complaints, merger reviews and other petitions. A dashboard could also help Con- gress in its oversight capacity. Pai said the House Energy and Commerce Com- mittee, which oversees the FCC, had to make formal requests to get information on wait times for pending petitions. "The fact that they had to make a request, and the fact that the agency had to spend time compiling it, calls to my mind a need for an online resource, " Pai said. There is tension built into the over- sight relationship, which can be exac- erbated by party politics, but he said an Making the FCC more responsive Ajit Pai
April 15, 2013
May 15, 2013