Archive for September, 2015
Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
Over two years ago, the FCC adopted an Order reforming prices for inmate calling services, reducing the burden of exorbitant charges for millions of families. This change was obviously a long time coming. The journey started in 2003 when Mrs. Martha Wright, a retired nurse from Washington, D. C., came before the Commission seeking relief from the hundred-dollars-a-month bills she was making significant personal sacrifices to pay so she could stay in touch with her imprisoned grandson. Over the next 10 years, others from around the country joined up with this cause. I was honored to keep the gavel when the inmate contacting reform Order was adopted in August 2013, and humbled that many of the petitioners who demanded alter – including Mrs. Wright’s grand son – were in the Commission Conference Room that day.
The 2013 Order was a big-deal. But it was also only a first action. It covered interstate calls however, not intrastate, and the caps the Payment adopted were interim pending further review. Over the past two years, we’ve been able to learn from the initial reforms, now the Commission is moving forward with the item that draws on these lessons and takes another important step forward to make inmate calling rates inexpensive to promote connectivity with friends and family to prevent inmates returning home as other people, which increases the likelihood of recidivism.
Anyone wondering why defendent calling reform is necessary should view the testimony of Bethany Fraser during the Commission’s August 2013 meeting. Ms. Fraser is the mother associated with two boys whose father can be incarcerated. Holding back tears, she explained how her phone expenses regularly exceeded her electricity and grocery bills combined, but she “would do anything and pay any amount to keep my children linked to their father. ” Fraser additional, “Choosing between essential needs and keeping kids connected to their parent is a choice no family should have to make. ” I couldn’t agree more.
Unfortunately, Microsoft. Fraser’s sons are two associated with 2 . 7 million children who may have at least one parent in prison as well as the 10 million children that have a new parent incarcerated. These children reside in households that are often suffering serious economic hardships, which are being exacerbated by unaffordable inmate calling prices. How high can these fees be? One call from a pro bono attorney in Florida was $56 with all the fees for a 4-minute discussion. Even if this is an extreme case, the fact that it’s possible tells you the system needs fixing.
Easing the particular financial burden on these family members is not only the compassionate thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. More than 700, 500 inmates are released from correctional facilities each year. Multiple studies have proven that having meaningful contact beyond the prison walls can make a actual difference in maintaining community ties, marketing rehabilitation, and reducing recidivism.
Since our 2013 Purchase, we’ve been collecting information and monitoring implementation of the new guidelines, and the evidence overwhelmingly supports taking additional steps to protect consumers.
The interim rate hats we adopted in 2013 have resulted in higher volumes of interstate calls: 70 percent in some cases! These data confirm what should currently be obvious: unaffordable rates dissuade contact while a more affordable program promotes communication.
Despite predictions of devastating impacts, I am unaware of any instances of security issues or phones being removed from services due to these rate caps.
However , one negative trend we have seen is an increase in additional fees and charges, such as those people to open an account, put money in to an account, close an account, or even reimbursement money to an account.
I’ve been working closely with Chairman Wheeler’s office to continue this important work. Today, the Chief and I circulated an Order that will establish a reasonable rate structure for many inmate calls, regardless of where they originate and terminate, and limit costly fees that drive up the cost families pay to stay in touch using their loved ones.
The FCC’s rate caps would fully support the security requirements of inmate contacting. These caps also would provide adequate revenue for correctional institutions to recuperate the costs of providing calling program and a fair return for suppliers while delivering reasonable rates for inmates and their families.
Additionally , the Order would set up a process by which the Commission may continue to collect and monitor data on rates and fees, and consider whether to revisit and further adjust these reforms based on the advancement of the market.
This action will protect some of society’s many vulnerable people from being used, while strengthening families. I look forward to working with my colleagues to take one more major step forward in this journey which usually began more than a decade ago.
Tuesday, September 29th, 2015
The Commission’s effort in order to require online public inspection data files for most television and radio transmit stations (and others) brings with it the opportunity to improve the physical security of broadcast stations. Simply put, once the community is able to view these documents online, there should be no need for public access to broadcast station premises. Given previous attacks on station employees as well as the physical risks these individuals can face, it is all the more important that the Commission clarify our rules so that in case any station makes its community inspection file available online – possibly as required by our rules or on its own initiative – it really is no longer required to make its amenities or premises open to the public. This particular positive step will improve the security of broadcast stations while improving public access to key records.
Across our nation, nearby broadcasting personnel often become actual celebrities in their communities. In many instances, individuals see or hear a station’s on-air talent on a daily or even weekly basis, and find them through the entire community performing various official plus public service functions. From on-air broadcasting and investigative reporting in order to charity fundraising and many other functions, station employees are the face of tv producers in cities, towns and localities throughout America. These efforts are part of the reason that broadcasters plus their hardworking staff are widely celebrated.
Unfortunately, the particular exposure and notoriety from this kind of high profile professions in today’s press driven environment can lead to greater security risk for station personnel. Everybody knows there are some number of unstable individuals communicating in every society, and broadcast station employees can be particularly vulnerable to risks or actual harm, including actual physical assault or worse.
American broadcasters generally take correct precautions to protect their employees, but there is room for improvement. In fact , the Commission’s public file inspection requirement clearly creates a potential weakness in broadcasters’ security efforts. When unknown individuals are allowed into a transmit facility for any purpose, but in specific, to review the public inspection file, record of potential risks can be quite lengthy, including violence. In my visit to Alaska last summer, I talked along with local broadcasters and learned of repeated attempts by one individual to remove documents from a station’s public document with the hopes of catching the particular broadcaster out of compliance with FCC rules. Just imagine if that person refused to exit or pulled a knife when the station personnel avoided the malicious act.
In an effort to address this situation, the Commission raised this precise issue as part of its latest online public document item. Specifically, in December’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we sought comment, at my request, on whether the online public file mandates, in case adopted, would result in “less requirement for the public to visit the affected entities, which will enable such entities to enhance security and minimize risks in order to employees. ” Having had a chance to review the current record on that continuing, it is disappointing that there is not overwhelming comment on this important topic. Maybe commenters were confident that the Commission would do the right thing simply by adopting such a common sense change in access to broadcaster properties without having to become extensively persuaded.
Appropriately, it would be helpful to have a more gushing record about the physical threats plus actual harms experienced by broadcast station personnel. Similarly, it would be valuable to hear whether broadcasters believe that their overall security could be improved if the Commission addressed this potential vulnerability. Simultaneously, I call on my fellow Commissioners to help to improve the safety and security of America’s broadcasters and their workers by reducing unnecessary access in case or when any efforts in order to expand the online public file proceed live.
Monday, September 28th, 2015
As we come to the end of September, National Preparedness Month, I’d like to emphasize two tools that Public Protection Answering Points (PSAPs) – Many 911 operations centers – can use: one to alert their communities, and the other to alert the FCC to local public safety marketing communications issues. These tools – emergency notifications and the FCC’s new Public Protection Support Center – can help general public safety communicators carry out their lifesaving missions.
As part of National Preparedness Month, Ready. gov educates Americans to make an emergency communications plan, which includes learning how to get emergency alerts and warnings through local officials. But are nearby officials ready to fully leverage alerting systems to warn their towns? One emerging best practice is perfect for PSAPs, who field incoming crisis calls, to also have a means of sending out critical information to the general public.
Here’s an example of how alerting can support incident response: This past year, an anonymous 911 caller documented an active gunman in an elementary school in Seminole County, Florida. Officials placed the school on lockdown since police responded. It turned out that the call was a hoax. Before the hoax had been exposed, however , news of the intended shooter was distributed via social media marketing, and concerned parents converged within the school. Public safety officials did not have a tool to counteract incomplete or inaccurate information on social media. Regardless whether the shooter had proven actual, the cordon of armed police combined with the influx of parents complicated the situation, and an even more dangerous occurrence could have resulted. But imagine, however, if the police and other emergency supervisors could have used targeted alerting to tell parents that all was okay – or, in a different scenario, delivered them instructions about where they might safely gather?
All of us used this incident as one of the case studies in a recent workshop we held on how local emergency authorities can leverage the use of alerting techniques. Panelists supported the proposition that will state and local emergency management offices that fully integrate alerting, 911, social media, and other emergency marketing communications functions into an integrated whole are far more effective in notifying their towns about danger than those that silo these functions or do not use alerting at all.
There is an effective tool already available that will local public safety officials can use for alerting. The Integrated General public Alert and Warning System, or even IPAWS, maintained by the Federal Crisis Management Agency, is an integrated entrance through which authorized public safety entities, including PSAPs, can initiate notifications. The alerts may be sent through the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which usually delivers the information via radio, tv, and other media, and/or Wireless Crisis Alerts (WEA), which are delivered to consumers’ cell phones. Most PSAPs across the country are not taking advantage of this important information dissemination reference. I encourage state, local, and tribal emergency managers to consider assisting direct participation in IPAWS from their PSAPs. It is not difficult to obtain consent, and some PSAPs have already done so.
Public Safety Assistance Center
The second important tool is a new one created to specifically accelerate issue spotting with the 911 system by itself. To ensure that PSAPs and other public safety organizations have an efficient way to request support and information from the General public Safety and Homeland Security Agency, we have launched the Public Safety Assistance Center (PSSC). This one-stop web portal can be used by public safety stakeholders to notify us of communications issues ranging from 911 support outages and fraudulent 911 calls to tower lighting outages and interference affecting public safety radio systems. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for public safety agencies to reach us online to convey problems with communications issues. (Of training course – as always – our 24/7 Operations Center remains available by phone at all times for safety-of-life issues. ) Additional details about the PSSC are included in a Public Discover issued today.
I really hope that PSAPs and other public safety stakeholders will consider using these sources and provide us with feedback even as we continue to work together to improve community crisis response.
Thursday, September 24th, 2015
This past summer, when the Commission had been considering an order to close several of the Enforcement Bureau’s industry offices and reduce field agent positions, a number of entities raised concerns about how this reorganization would impact the efforts to combat pirate radio. It was hard to imagine that the heat would be turned up by an Enforcement Bureau further constrained by fewer real estate agents and a smaller footprint. But assurances were made that a sleeker, streamlined Enforcement Bureau would be able to perform all of its duties with even greater performance. When further concerns were raised, new language was even added to the eventual order promising a full of energy enforcement effort against illegal broadcasters via development of a “comprehensive policy and enforcement approach. ”
At the time, I actually questioned how long it would take to create and adopt such a simple record. I even queried the Observance Bureau chief whether it could be carried out by the end of the summer, but no timetable was provided in our helpful exchange. To my knowledge, nothing further has emerged since the adoption from the field reorganization order.
So , in the attention of furthering the discussion and having the ball rolling on our unanimously-approved promise of a policy and observance approach for pirate radio, I actually offer the below draft. I hope this small step, which did not have a substantial time commitment or assets, will renew focus on the Commission’s difficult, but fundamental, obligation in order to police our spectrum and assist in the resolution of instances of dangerous interference on behalf of radio broadcasters and all other spectrum users, who are billed with serving the American individuals.
Will never do I suggest that this is the only edition I would support or the best way in order to phrase every particular concept. Rather, I hope it will inspire those focusing on this issue, both inside the Commission plus out, to suggest changes, edits and improvements, or provide their own proposals, in the very near phrase. Given the stakes, this issue should never wait any longer.
The particular Commission reiterates our firm position, as articulated in the Communications Act and Commission rules, that illegal broadcast operations within the FM plus AM radio broadcast bands – often referred to as pirate radio broadcasting – is strictly prohibited and subject to enforcement measures. Violations are not to be taken lightly, as the harmful interference brought on by pirate operations sabotages licensed broadcasters serving their communities and puts the valuable public safety efforts of these stations in jeopardy to the detriment of the American people who count on all of them, including diverse and underserved populations.
Additional, the Commission makes clear that it intends to enact a vigorous campaign of enforcement activities in order to disrupt and permanently terminate most of pirate radio stations that are in operation today and prevent those that may attempt to arrive online in the future. We will collaborate along with federal and state law enforcement authorities, as needed, to enhance and enhance our enforcement operations. Our work will include an education component for those entities that may knowingly or unconsciously assist pirate radio operations in different capacity, including building owners plus managers, national and local strategies for political office, media marketers, radio programming suppliers, concert promoters and venue operators, and devices manufacturers and importers. All fascinated parties should be on notice that facilitating pirate radio broadcasting will not be tolerated, and may be subject to enforcement or even legal actions, as permitted below law. Accordingly, we seek full cooperation by anyone who may have related information to help identify, locate, plus take action against the operators and proprietors of pirate radio stations.
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015
Last month, Chairman Wheeler circulated an order that would eliminate the Commission’s network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity guidelines. As Chairman Wheeler explained, these types of 50-year old rules are previous their prime in light of the substantial statutory and marketplace changes that have occurred since their adoption. Provided these changes, it’s time for the Commission to end its intrusion straight into this aspect of the commercial market place and leave it to TV networks, syndicators, and broadcast stations to implement the exclusive submission rights that they choose to create.
Some have objected to the proposed action on the ground that the exclusivity rules are inextricably linked to the mandatory copyright licenses enacted by Congress for cable and satellite workers. These advocates argue that, as a result, the Commission should keep its exclusivity rules unless and until Congress repeals the compulsory copyright permit. Otherwise, the argument goes, the cable and satellite operators will be given a free ride to retransmit copyrighted material without paying for it and in disregard of exclusive rights that broadcasters have bargained for.
The asserted inextricable link does not exist — nor will the imagined free ride. These types of advocates ignore major pieces of the intervening history – notably the creation of the retransmission consent program in the 1992 Cable Act.
The historical backdrop for the exclusivity rules helps to explain why they are unneeded today. The Commission payment adopted network non-duplication rules regarding cable in 1965. Seven years later, the Commission adopted syndicated exclusivity rules for cable, consistent with a 1971 Consensus Agreement discussed among the cable, broadcast, and system production industries to facilitate the growth and development of cable television service. The parties to the Consensus Agreement decided to support syndicated exclusivity rules regarding cable, as well as copyright legislation that could for the first time subject cable retransmission associated with broadcast television programs to full copyright liability but also include a mandatory copyright license for cable. Congress amended the Copyright Act within 1976 to create a compulsory copyright permit for cable. The compulsory permit permits cable systems to retransmit the signals of broadcast stations without having to negotiate separate copyright permit with every owner of content carried on the stations’ signals, exactly where carriage of the stations complies along with FCC rules. The exclusivity guidelines and a more limited compulsory copyright laws license were later extended to satellite operators.
When the network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules for cable were adopted in 1965 and 1972, so when the cable compulsory license was later created, the Communications Operate did not require cable operators to get a broadcast station’s consent to carry the signal, either locally or within a distant market in which another broadcaster had obtained exclusive distribution legal rights for the same programming. Thus, the exclusivity rules were viewed as necessary to avoid a cable operator from importing an out-of-market station carrying duplicative programming. That situation changed significantly with passage of the 1992 Cable Act. That law for the first time forbade cable operators from retransmitting the signals of a broadcast station with no its consent.
These days, the Communications Act forbids most MVPDs – cable and satellite television alike – from retransmitting the signal of a broadcast station with no broadcaster’s permission.
Under our current retransmission consent program, adistant station must give the consent before its signal might be imported into another station’s nearby market. And, in practice, network affiliation and syndication agreements typically prohibit broadcast stations from granting MVPDs retransmission consent for out-of-market carriage of their signals. Networks, syndicators, and broadcast stations that choose to generate exclusive distribution rights may efficiently safeguard those rights through independently negotiated affiliation and syndication contracts. They will continue to get this right in the absence of our exclusivity rules. It is thus incorrect to suggest that, in the absence of the exclusivity rules, the compulsory copyright laws licenses would allow MVPDs “to cancel exclusive licenses negotiated by broadcasters in the marketplace. ”
Nor would MVPDs get a free trip to carry copyrighted material without paying. MVPDs today pay fees to broadcasters for the right to retransmit their indicators, and when networks, syndicators, or content creators license their content to transmit stations they understand that the content carried on the broadcast signal will be retransmitted by MVPDs, consistent with the agreed-on territorial restrictions. The transactions necessarily reflect that understanding. The fact that an MVPD pays to retransmit the “signal” of a station does not conceal the fact that the payment is the key that unlocks the right to retransmit the content carried on the signal and that the content providers have been paid for inclusion of their programming.
Is it time for you to reconsider the compulsory licenses regarding cable and satellite? The main explanation for their adoption was that it would be too cumbersome for MVPDs to make a deal separately to license all the different programming carried on a broadcast signal. The later success of cable connection channels in acting as “rights aggregators” to obtain the necessary rights to supply the programming they assemble to MVPDs may justify a fresh see that rationale. But the compulsory licenses, as well as the rationale on which they are based, provide no reason to retain the exclusivity rules, as geographic exclusivity could be well protected by contract, with all the backup of the retransmission consent program.
There was a time as well as a place for the Commission’s exclusivity guidelines. That time has passed. It is now period for the Commission to step aside and let programming negotiators within the private marketplace do their work opportunities. Networks, syndicators, and broadcast stations today decide what exclusivity procedures to include in their affiliation and syndication agreements – and they will be free to do so in the absence of our guidelines. They will have multiple means of enforcing those provisions without the additional gadget of an exclusivity complaint to the Commission payment, which has scarcely ever been filed. They may choose to include provisions in their contracts geared to facilitating enforcement, such as procedures for private arbitration, fee shifting, choice of law, and third-party named beneficiary rights. And in the end any train station will know that a network or syndicator does not have to continue to deal with a train station that grants retransmission rights outside of the scope permitted by the affiliation or syndication agreement.
Wednesday, September 16th, 2015
Earlier this year, we all joined together to write about making more space for Wi-Fi simply by exploring sharing opportunities in the 5850-5925 MHz band, or 5. 9 GHz band. More unlicensed airwaves in this band could lead to lots of great things—more wireless hotspots, less network congestion, greater speeds, and faster innovation. So we are pleased to see that our vision for this spectrum is currently a lot closer to reality thanks to the efforts of Congress and a broad group of stakeholders with interest in these airwaves.
First, a little background for perspective. Back in 1999, the 5. 9 GHz band had been set aside by the Commission for the automotive aftermarket. Since that time, efforts have been underway to use this spectrum to develop technology that can reduce car crashes and improve roadway safety. This system, known as Dedicated Short Range Communications Service (DSRC), is designed to have cars “talk” in real time to one another and communicate with street lights, curbs, bicycles, and even pedestrians to reduce the amount of auto accidents, including fatalities.
We saw efforts to develop DSRC firsthand this summer, when we journeyed together to Michigan to visit the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP) and the University of Michigan Transport Research Institute (UMTRI), which are the national hubs for this safety effort. While there, we test-drove new car safety prototypes, listened to concerns about possible Wi-Fi interference, plus discussed spectrum sharing with both car manufacturers and researchers. We furthermore got the chance to see Mcity, 1 testing ground for the driverless cars of the future. It was a terrific visit, and came away with a desire to function harder to resolve outstanding issues plus improve opportunities for both car safety and Wi-Fi in the five. 9 GHz band.
On this front, last week represented genuine progress. Members of Congress known as on the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Commerce (DOC), plus FCC to explore opening up the five. 9 GHz band for unlicensed use. Thanks to leadership from United states senate Commerce Committee Chairman Thune plus Senators Rubio and Booker, the Commission now has a framework meant for testing in the 5. 9 Gigahertz band that will help ensure that unlicensed posting does not cause harmful interference in order to incumbents, including DSRC. This construction includes nine principles that a broad group of stakeholders—automakers, unlicensed spectrum promoters, and technology companies—have come together to support. It also includes specific testing responsibilities for the FCC regarding interference-avoidance plus allocation of spectrum use in the 5. 9 GHz band. Furthermore, this effort builds on the function of the House Energy and Commerce Panel, which has led to a series of talks along with stakeholders and regulators to help make a way forward and develop posting plans.
This improvement is exciting. But we are furthermore impatient, and a lot of work lies forward. So we will press the Percentage to start a proceeding to set testing parameters, evaluate results, and seek public comment on what we learn from our own tests. A fair testing process can help all interested parties—and we will function to ensure it proceeds expeditiously. Included in this effort, we want to see that range allocated for automobile safety within the 5. 9 GHz band can be used for just that—safety—and that more Wi fi is safely available for wireless accessibility and innovation nationwide. We think there is space in our airwaves for both—and we look forward to making it happen.
Monday, September 14th, 2015
Today marks the beginning of Lifeline Awareness Week 2015, whenever agencies and organizations across the country carry out outreach to eligible low-income families about the Lifeline program. It’s furthermore worth pausing today to recognize the work that our partners in public utilities profits across the country do towards making Personal assistant both beneficial to its subscribers and the best use of the ratepayer dollars that will support it. While these initiatives often take place behind-the-scenes, they are important to ensuring that low-income Americans can access the vital communications technologies they need.
Since the plan began in 1985, Lifeline offers offered families of limited means discounted phone service so they can access the economic, personal, and public safety benefits of reliable telecommunications service – from calling a child’s school in order to reaching 911 in the event of an emergency.
But as we all know, the particular communications landscape has changed fundamentally over the past 30 years, and full participation in society now requires more than simple voice service. In June, the particular Commission found in its Further Discover of Proposed Rulemaking on the Personal assistant program that “[t]oday, broadband is essential to participate in community. ” With that in mind, the Commission wanted comment on how to best include high speed and promote efficiency in the Personal assistant program, among other important questions.
As we promote understanding of the benefits that the Lifeline program provides today, we are mindful of the Commission’s recent findings about the promise that will affordable broadband access holds with regard to low-income households. Broadband can help family members fully engage in civic life plus meaningfully access health services, job opportunities, and educational resources. Plus ultimately, all network users advantage when everyone, regardless of income degree, can communicate and innovate through broadband access. Among other essential topics addressed, the public comments we have already received in response to the Additional Notice reveal the remarkable variety of ways that broadband can enrich plus transform lives.
The general public has pointed to how high speed enables access to new communications technologies for people with disabilities. With broadband program, children can complete their homework and prepare to be engaged citizens, state programs can share health care and nutrition information with moms and dads and expectant parents, veterans will find much-needed support programs, and family members can find gainful and fulfilling work. For Tribal lands, we also provide heard from commenters expressing how broadband can be especially useful in remote areas for maintaining important civic, economic, and social connections.
With the Commission’s oversight, the particular Lifeline program has evolved from the wireline-only program to one that embraces the benefits of mobile service. Now, the particular Commission is looking at ways to modernize and restructure the Lifeline plan to keep pace with today’s technologies. In this vein, we continue to delightful public comment on all issues elevated in the Commission’s Further Notice, bearing in mind the promise of broadband.
Friday, September 11th, 2015
With the filing of the proposed Charter-Time Warner Cable-Bright Home Networks transaction, the FCC personnel went to work, first by critiquing the application for completeness and then, when it was officially accepted for consideration, by beginning the analysis associated with whether the proposed transaction meets the particular Commission’s public-interest standard.
Now, the personnel review enters its second stage, when others can contribute their own views to the Commission’s consideration. Today, the Media Bureau issued a Public Notice establishing the timeline for public comment, shortly after the particular Commission adopted a Protective Purchase to be used in the consideration of this deal.
The first set of public comments will be due on October 13, 2015 and today also marks the beginning of the alleged shot clock, which begins the particular 180-day period in which the Commission efforts to complete its review.
Comment is critical towards the Commission’s informed consideration but not information can, of course , be public. Certainly, the application itself, which is composed of details chosen by the Applicants, contains greater than 100 instances in which information is definitely asserted to be confidential or extremely confidential.
This is why the Commission adopted a protective order, which is the legal framework that protects sensitive details given to the Commission while permitting its review by appropriate representatives of third parties commenting around the transaction. In adopting that order today, the Commission both figured the use of this protective order greatest balances legitimate confidentiality interests with its desire to be informed by diverse opinions, and responded to the U. H. Court of Appeals for the Deb. C. Circuit’s CBS decision from earlier this year. In its opinion, the Courtroom called on the Commission to clarify its procedures for handling confidential information in Commission transaction reviews.
The particular adoption of the protective order is definitely separate from its execution, most notably the selection of confidential or highly confidential details to be governed by the protective order. That process has also begun; this Public Notice places the unredacted version of the application under the defensive order. But that is the only details that is currently subject to the defensive order.
The last point bears repeating. The particular Commission has yet to ask the Applicants or others to create any kind of video programming information with issue in the CBS TELEVISION STUDIOS decision, thus there’s not yet been any choice whether the Commission will collect such information. In the future, if the Commission personnel seeks such information, then the defensive order procedures ensure that any objecting programmers have ample opportunities to protect their interests before any information is made available under the protective order. However at the moment, all that is within the defensive order is the application itself.
The goal of the particular transaction review is both simple and profound: To assess whether the candidates have met their burden associated with demonstrating that the transaction is in the general public interest. The Commission conducts that work in close collaboration with the Department of Justice, in concert with the statutory command of the Communications Act and, as always, with a detailed analysis of the particular facts.
Tuesday, September 8th, 2015
Wireless service and device use is exploding and more commercial range – both licensed and unlicensed – is going to be needed to meet the insatiable demand. While improvements in spectral engineering and infrastructure builds may provide some relief, spectrum is really a finite resource so large swaths of spectrum now used by the particular U. S. government must be reallocated to the private sector to resolve forthcoming shortages. And the establishment of range fees for government agencies, or Agency Spectrum Fees (ASF), is one tool to make this happen.
There are many way to reduce the Federal government’s spectrum allotment. Statutorily forcing agencies to move to other bands remains the most effective way, yet this requires strong leadership, is usually a one time event focusing on specific frequencies and may run into political storms. Others advocate for new incentives that provide agencies funding to voluntarily surrender valuable groups, but this too has drawbacks as the “carrots” needed to achieve success may exceed rationality and may only work in narrow circumstances. Further, it is unclear whether such incentives would change the behavior of individual organizations to use their spectrum more prudently. The benefit of ASF is that they can function being a more nuanced “stick” approach that will continually generates, if operated properly, spectrum efficiencies. More importantly, it is not a good either/or situation: they can work as an individual solution or be part of a multi-layered approach.
Overall, the ASF concept is rather simple. By establishing an annual price to government agencies based on their allocated frequencies, which would impact their annual budgets, an agency would have the deeply-rooted interest in minimizing its individual spectrum footprint. In other words, imposing a cost would force agencies to reconsider their spectrum holdings because they would only want to pay for what is really needed to accomplish their mission, therefore freeing spectrum for commercial utilizes. It’s not too dissimilar to having gear pricing for various sized storage units – it rationalizes behavior by getting users to “rent” what is actually needed, minimizing the chance that will space goes unused. A this year GAO Report stated it pretty well: “[f]ees could help to free spectrum for new utilizes, since licensees that use spectrum idly, lazily, slowly, may reduce their holdings or pursue sharing opportunities once they carry the opportunity cost of letting their range remain fallow or underused. inch
Simply by some accounts, the Federal government currently occupies – either exclusively or on a primary basis – between sixty and 70 percent of all range in the commercially most valuable range among 225 MHz and 3. 7 GHz, which comes to approximately two, 417 megahertz. Some have stated that the federal government only controls seventeen percent of this spectrum, but that will figure does not take into account all of the contributed spectrum the government has where, due to the primary status, it can restrict or preclude commercial use. If range fees result in a reduction of the complete amount of government spectrum by even 15 percent, that would equate to about 363 megahertz. I don’t plan, in any way, to trivialize or minimalize the valuable functions for which organizations use spectrum, but the days of arranging or warehousing spectrum on the infinitesimal chance that a particular band could be used in the rarest of events need to be brought to an end. To argue that will federal agencies cannot get 15 to 20 percent more spectrally efficient, with the use of modern technologies and sharing of services and range within the government, is ludicrous, specifically since it is estimated that the personal sector is getting approximately 30 percent more effective in its spectrum use every year. 1
Federal agencies argue that it is impossible to properly capture the value of range usage to meet their public protection missions. However , this point completely ignores the fact that federal spectrum users are already subject to numerous other budgetary pressures from reducing building rents and workforce sizes to the cost of input goods and services. If spectrum fees are problematic, how is it that organizations can deal with the myriad annual cost restrictions imposed by the General Services Administration? Generally, the Federal government is attempting, albeit slowly, to reduce its general square footage. Even the Department associated with Defense has been subject to space downsizing over the years as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. Spectrum ought to be treated as just another factor that will agencies should account for as they prepare their annual budgets. And such costs put a more accurate price upon all of the costs for a particular company or function.
Additionally , another concern raised with spectrum fees is setting the appropriate amount to make sure it is not therefore punishingly high as to jeopardize a good agency’s public safety functions. In certain regards, rate selection (whether flat rate or market fluctuating) can never be a truly perfect process because it will require some entity, rather than the marketplace, to create the rates. Accordingly, we need to take certain fallibilities and use a conventional approach when setting the price point, adjusting it upwards as time goes on. At this point, I would argue that NTIA, in assessment with the Office of Management and Budget, as is done for spectrum relocation costs, should set the annual rate on a per megahertz basis in line with recent FCC private sector range auctions in order to generate a price for a given frequency. Where multiple organizations are sharing a particular band, the price can be divided on an equitable foundation, rather than trying to determine each agency’s use or its intrinsic value. For instance, where sharing occurs, the cost allocated for primary and supplementary use can be proportioned, albeit fairly arbitrarily, at two-thirds and one-third, respectively.
The budgetary mechanism for applying these fees on government customers presents some challenges but can also be resolvable. Accepting the position that NTIA accurately knows how much spectrum every agency holds, even spectrum that is used for classified functions, simple math produces the annual fee owed by an agency (i. e., price per megahertz times spectrum allotments times any reduction for sharing). From that amount, an agency’s annual budgetary appropriation level will be automatically reduced accordingly, via a sequestration-like structure, in that fiscal year.
Since there are current budget caps for discretionary investing, which are very likely to stay in place for the foreseeable future, a federal agency would be challenged to convince Congressional Appropriators to plus-up its account to counteract the impact of its spectrum costs. This is because any increase would have to arrive at the expense of some other precious program within their appropriations allocation. Also those who want to increase the caps will be unlikely to provide relief because it stomach at the expense of other investing that they are pursuing. Further, limits can be by legislation, if necessary, to prevent any kind of budgetary backfilling, if needed. Personally, I would leave any funds created by the fees to Appropriators to reallocate as they see fit, but I could see where some would want the money to lower the overall discretionary caps, and therefore the deficit.
Despite the many advantages of spectrum costs, I do not think that they are useful or appropriate to apply to commercial users, either licensed or unlicensed. First, most commercial spectrum customers have already paid for their spectrum in one form or another. While some have bought licenses at an FCC auction, others effectively paid for their spectrum when original licenses were made available around the secondary market. Second, many commercial spectrum holders are in the middle of spectrum re-evaluations and subject to market pressures. For example , television tv producers are about seven months from the broadcast incentive auction, where Our elected representatives established a different regime for promoting spectrum efficiency. Lastly, the tried application of spectrum fees to commercial users was a contributing factor in preventing their establishment in past debates. As such, the correct thing to do is to concentrate on the government users.
Installing greater accountability to an agency’s use of a precious reference will produce spectrum efficiencies and finally reduce government users’ spectrum stock. Agency Spectrum Fees can do this particular and it’s a step that we should consider.
Tuesday, September 8th, 2015
Over Labor Time weekend, a dedicated FCC team worked day and night to complete major IT upgrades. This work included physically relocating more than 200 different legacy machines out of FCC’s headquarters to a commercial service provider.
Why the move? Over the last many years, the FCC has faced ever-increasing costs to maintain its legacy IT systems. This move to a commercial service provider will help reduce the costs to maintain the systems, improve their resiliency, and permit us to shift many of our legacy applications to the cloud – as we did with our Consumer Help Desk.
Using a massive server move of this size – even with detailed planning, impartial verification, and backup plans – the opportunity always exists for impresses, especially with legacy IT techniques, nearly 400 program applications, and hundreds of servers.
Our servers remaining FCC headquarters in seven relocating vans after midnight and showed up safely at the new commercial data center facility early Friday morning.
While all the data and infrastructure showed up intact, upon arrival we found out the need for some additional cabling to become done by our commercial companions that took longer than anticipated. Unfortunately, this delayed completion of all of the system upgrades – even with the FCC team working around the clock throughout the holiday weekend.
The good news is ECFS is available towards the public and EDOCS should be offered later today. More detail around the systems we are working to make available by Thursday morning can be found here.
We will still work diligently and provide updates on these IT upgrades. The entire FCC team and I truly appreciate your own patience and understanding as we work to complete all of the upgrades.