Archive for January, 2016

The Next Step for LTE-U: Conducting Limited LTE-U Performance Tests

Friday, January 29th, 2016

The Commission has been actively engaged in the use of the 4G LTE radio communications devices designed to operate in unlicensed spectrum, also known as LTE-U. Various parties have expressed concern that LTE-U may not share spectrum fairly with Wi-Fi and other devices operating in unlicensed spectrum. The Office of Engineering & Technology and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau have encouraged the industry to address and resolve these concerns and considerable progress has been made.

Throughout this process, the Commission has closely monitored developments and actively encouraged all stakeholders to work together to find common ground. And, we’ve held meetings with stakeholders on both the Wi-Fi and LTE-U sides, including cable companies, device manufacturers, wireless carriers, and others. The public can read comments inDocket ET 15-105.

Today, the FCC’S Office of Engineering and Technology is taking an important step by granting a special temporary authority (STA) to Qualcomm to conduct very small scale performance evaluation tests of LTE-U equipment at two Verizon sites in Oklahoma City, OK and Raleigh, NC. OET routinely grants STAs and experimental licenses for parties to evaluate the performance of products and conduct testing, subject to the condition that no harmful interference is caused. STAs and experimental licenses do not have any significance relative to whether the Commission may ultimately authorize a device or service.

The Wi-Fi Alliance, working together with advocates of LTE-U, is developing a test plan to evaluate the coexistence of LTE-U with Wi-Fi and other devices operating in the unlicensed spectrum. A draft of the plan is expected to be released early next month. Qualcomm and Verizon have agreed to participate in subsequent laboratory and real world co-existence testing of LTE-U. The Wi-Fi Alliance recently submitted a letter expressing appreciation for Qualcomm’s continued engagement in the Wi-Fi Alliance’s coexistence work and expressing that it had no objection to the grant of an STA for equipment testing at Verizon facilities, with the assurance of continued cooperation in the separate co-existence evaluation and testing process.

The success of the unlicensed bands as laboratories of innovation is largely the result of industry-driven coordination and, while significant steps remain before LTE-U can be considered for commercial deployment, we believe that this development is an encouraging step in continuing that success.

Regarding the steps remaining before LTE-U could be commercially deployed, it is important to note that experimental LTE-U device operation at any other location would require a new STA. Further, the parties have agreed to conduct lab and real world coexistence testing, the results of which will be shared with the Commission. LTE-U devices will also require equipment authorization by the FCC Laboratory before they can be marketed in the United States and applicants for certification of such devices will be required to submit a sample devices for testing.

OET and WTB will continue to closely monitor industry progress towards resolution of the spectrum sharing concerns. We are pleased with the progress thus far and encourage the continued cooperation of all of the stakeholders.

Expanding Consumer Choice in the Video Marketplace

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

The agenda for the Commission’s February open meeting has a clear unifying theme: expanding consumer choice in the video marketplace.

Headlining next month’s meeting is a proposal to open up the set-top box market to competition.  Currently, 99 percent of pay-TV subscribers lease set-top boxes from their providers, paying hundreds in rental fees annually without any meaningful alternatives. Congress has directed to Commission with making sure consumers can choose the equipment they use to access pay-TV. Consistent with this statutory mandate, I will circulate a proposal to tear down barriers that currently prevent innovators from developing new ways to access and enjoy your favorite shows and movies. These new rules would pave the way for a competitive marketplace for new devices and software that enhance the TV-watching experience. For more details, please read my op-ed in Re/Code outlining this proposal.

We not only want consumers to have more choice when it comes to how they access TV, we also want them to have the choice to watch diverse and independent programming. The video marketplace is changing, including the rise of new ways for consumers to access programming. These changes particularly impact diverse and independent programmers that seek carriage and rely on traditional video operators for distribution.

During consideration of the AT&T/DirecTV transaction, Commissioner Clyburn spoke out about the need for the Commission to take a fresh look at the video marketplace and examine the challenges and barriers to expanding the availability of independent and diverse programming. I’ve heard this call loud and clear, and, today, I am circulating a notice of inquiry to build the record on program carriage. The goal is this inquiry is to assess how the Commission could foster greater consumer choice and enhance diversity by eliminating or reducing any barriers experienced by programmers, especially small programmers and new entrants, in reaching consumers.

When consumers have more choices, consumers win. I look forward to working with my colleagues on these proposals to bring more choice and competition to the video marketplace.

Creating a Culture of Cybersecurity in America’s 911 Call Centers

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

January 28, 2016 – 3: 15 pm

Back Admiral (ret. ) David Simpson | Chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

America’s 911 call centers handle thousands of emergency calls each day, often concerning life-or…

Cuba’s Telecommunications and Technology Opportunities

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Last week, I had the privilege of participating in bilateral talks with the Cuban government focused on how we can work with Cuba to increase connectivity between our two countries, as well as within Cuba.  We discussed ideas for opening more direct communications links with Cuba, and we got a better sense of Cuba’s Internet and communications connectivity needs. We also met with representatives of the small but growing entrepreneurial community that is hungry for network connectivity.

Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda from the State Department led our delegation which also included representatives from the Department of the Treasury as well as representatives of the technology community. The inclusion of the private sector in the talks advanced the dialog with real life examples of what was possible.

The Cubans we met were proud people who recognize the benefits new telecommunications networks can bring to education, health care and economic growth. Our message was simple: we want to help (already, for instance, two companies have roaming agreements with the state-owned telecom provider). We spoke about a new undersea cable connecting our countries, commercial relations for equipment and service providers, as well as an ongoing regulatory dialog.

We at the FCC have contributed to efforts to improve connectivity between the United States and Cuba, and within Cuba, by removing Cuba from the Commission’s Exclusion List for International Section 214 Authorizations.  By removing Cuba from this list, the Commission opened the door for U.S. telecom carriers to provide facilities-based voice and data service to Cuba without separate approval from the Commission.  This should lead to increased competition on the U.S.-Cuba route.   We are also working on removing certain non-discrimination requirements on the U.S.-Cuba route, which would give U.S. carriers more flexibility to negotiate rates with the state-owned telecommunications operator and to respond to market forces.

Cuba remains one of the least digitally connected countries in our hemisphere. They talk about upgrading to DSL and 3G wireless. We urged them to leapfrog such linear transitions and expand to state-of-the-art services. We pledged our support and the support of U.S. companies to achieve this. It is unclear, however, just how anxious the Cuban government is to open up expanded network capabilities.  

I enjoyed my visit to Cuba and came away from it with a newfound understanding of both the opportunities and challenges facing Cuba in terms of communications technology and access.  I am grateful to Ambassador Sepulveda for his unstinting leadership, to our Cuban hosts for their warm hospitality, and to our agency and private sector partners for helping to make the trip a success.

2015 World Radiocommunication Conference: A Troubling Direction

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Now that the 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) has concluded and the final report issued, I wanted to share our thoughts on this conference. Although I was unable to attend the entire time, it had been a privilege to join Ambassador Decker Anstrom and Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda from the State Department, FCC Chairman Wheeler, International Bureau Chief Mindel De La Torre and the girl staff in Geneva. As part of the Oughout. S. delegation, I enjoyed the particular meetings that I had with associates from other delegations. They were both helpful and enlightening.

By way of background, the WRC is held every three to four years by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The last was held in 2012, and the next will be held in 2019. In this conference, the participants review, plus, if necessary, revise the Radio Regulations, which is the international treaty governing just about all member nations’ use of radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. They also determine issues for study in preparation for future WRCs.

Having an international entire body, like the ITU, can allow for the global harmonization of spectrum use. The benefits of global harmonization are many. For instance, it reduces the cost of new equipment and devices because of the economies of level achieved when technology can be promoted globally. Additionally , it allows customers to have the same experience with their devices whether they are at home or overseas. Although global allocation is the absolute goal, spectrum may also be allocated by regions – such as Europe and Africa (Region 1), the Americas (Region 2) and Asia (Region 3) – or by country by means of footnotes added to the spectrum portion chart.

The U. S. delegation, directed by Ambassador Anstrom, worked vigorously to promote the U. S. position. Based on their hard work, advocacy and lots of around-the-clock negotiating sessions, there was success on several objectives, such as harmonized spectrum for global flight tracking, public safety, and automotive radars, along with the study of potential bands for future Fixed Satellite Assistance allocation. In these instances, the WRC seems to have operated as it should – countries coming together to determine global spectrum needs, finding solutions depending on bona fide data and science, and acting collectively to resolve issues and various positions, as necessary. Unfortunately, regardless of the delegation’s best efforts, these sound principles did not apply to the identification of International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) spectrum, which was the area of finest interest to the FCC.

The Commission got two main goals heading in to WRC-15. The first was to obtain additional spectrum for mobile broadband, including a worldwide allocation for the 600 MHz music group and the C-band ( i. e. , the 3. four to 3. 7 GHz band). While the U. S. was profitable in getting this spectrum for use in this country, it faced enormous opposition in obtaining a global part. The second was to set the phase to globally harmonize spectrum to facilitate deployment of next generation, or even 5G, networks. To start this process, the particular U. S. was seeking spreading studies to determine whether future mobile services could co-exist in certain bands, including 28 GHz, which could pave the way for possible global allowance at the 2019 conference depending on the studies’ outcome. In both of these instances, as in the U. S., there are transmitted, satellite and government incumbents delivering services in these spectrum bands internationally.

Unfortunately, this is where the WRC went wrong. For a number of reasons, other countries avoided a global 600 MHz allocation, also going so far as trying to block any discussion of the band at WRC-15. They also barred the 28 Gigahertz band from inclusion in the 5G feasibility studies. It is incomprehensible that will even doing studies should be a non-starter or off the table. Science should dictate the efficient allocation associated with spectrum, not politics or international protectionism.

Although it is short-sighted for some nations to decide against technological innovation, what made matters even worse was a decision that individual nations could support a mobile share in the 600 MHz band via a footnote only upon the acceptance of neighboring countries. Ultimately, this de facto veto power led to a domino effect of countries obstructing other countries at the end of the meeting. Therefore , many governments that backed the U. S. position were forced to sit on the sidelines. It really is dumbfounding that one country could quash another’s ability to use spectrum within its own borders as it sees fit, even though they protect incumbents located in nearby states.

Regardless, the U. S. and certain other countries that already have mobile allocations for these frequencies can move forward notwithstanding, so it will not affect our future plans. Therefore , the Commission will conduct a transmitted incentive auction in the near future (perhaps in a matter of months), and wireless providers can commence planning and deploying systems before the ITU may even consider a global allocation for this band further, which is not scheduled until the WRC within 2023. This means that the rest of the world will trail far behind the trajectory of wireless communications progress.

Similarly, the ITU rejected studies of the 28 GHz band, despite millimeter influx research and testing that is already underway using these very frequencies in the U. S. and other like-minded nations. Specifically, the Commission already has a proceeding regarding mobile use in twenty-eight GHz, and has committed to considering an order this coming summer. Consequently , those that are actually going to innovate plus develop next-generation systems will move through the private sector standards setting bodies to determine what these systems and networks will look like, all outside of the purview of the ITU. In sum, the ITU and countries that prevented even studying 28 Gigahertz will have little to no tone of voice in the development of these future technologies. While this may not facilitate harmonization, the particular WRC-15 experience suggests that we merely can’t rely on a reasoned global process to result in a logical outcome.

This particular leads me to contemplate the particular practical effect of what happened at WRC-15 and its impact on the ITU part going forward. There is a real possibility that these practices undermined the value of future WRCs and increased the risk that the ITU will become a tool for governments plus incumbent spectrum users to halt spectral efficiency and technological progress. Global spectrum harmonization for future providers will be difficult, if not impossible, or, at a minimum, be years behind development if such practices are allowed to occur. At the same time, global technological leaders, such as the U. S., will keep innovate outside and without input from the ITU and its many nation claims. This will, in turn, make the ITU as well as the WRC process less relevant.

After this experience, I am left asking whether it is really worth the country’s time and money to engage on this process and whether the ITU plus WRC have a lasting future. I will be an optimist and say that it may, but technologically advanced countries – and the U. S. in particular – need to have greater confidence in WRC and other international conferences, and also in the ITU in general. If this means we ought to increase our leadership position, then let’s do so aggressively. The TERSEBUT needs to be a place that fosters r and d based on sound science as opposed to a quick way to blocking future innovation. And the just way this will happen is for countries on the cutting edge of technology in order to be heard above those that would like to maintain the status quo, which are unfortunately the very ones who are currently in control of the particular ITU agenda.

In the end, WRC-15 had a few successes but ultimately raised essential issues that need to be addressed. I stand ready to assist in any way possible in making improvements a reality. In the meantime, I will not hesitate to advance the United States’ technological positions to ensure future achievements – with or without the ITU.

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January 15, 2016 : 2: 15 pm

Michael O' Rielly | Commissioner

Now that the 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) has came to the conclusion and the final…

A brand new Year, a New Website for the Incentive Auction

Friday, January 8th, 2016

Using the start of the first-ever incentive auction lower than 90 days away, consumers and other serious parties nationwide want to better determine what this auction means for them. So the public is fully informed, these days we unveil a new informational internet site for the incentive auction.

The website includes a range of materials that explain why the particular Commission is conducting the auction, how the auction can benefit the public, how the process works, and what consumers will have to do to continue enjoying over-the-air television stations once the auction concludes.

The new web site also features a “Frequently Asked Questions” section for consumers, a calendar of key dates and activities, a “Resources” page where the public can easily find key incentive auction decisions and documents, and detailed primers on the reverse and ahead auctions. For potential participants, we’ve also provided a link to the FCC’s official incentive auction (Auction 1000) page from which they can access the form, tutorials, and related information.

The Task Power will update the site as new information becomes available. The site will also act as a key component of the Commission’s post-auction consumer education efforts to ensure a smooth changeover for over-the-air TV viewers. All of us invite you to visit the website and welcome your comments and questions.

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January 8, 2016 – 2: 00 pm

Charlie Meisch | Senior Advisor, Marketing communications and Public Affairs, Incentive Public sale Task Force

With the start of the first-ever incentive public sale less than 90 days away, consumers and other…

Kickstarting the New Year

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

It is the first week in January, and that means it’s time for the yearly pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. Every year, this celebration of technological ingenuity gives us a glimpse of what the future will look like. If there’s one overriding pattern of this year’s show — as well as the past several shows – it’s that everything will be online later on, from our clothes to our cars, every sector of our economy and modern society will be changed by ubiquitous online connectivity. At the FCC, we are focused on seizing the new opportunities created by our wired and wireless broadband networks in most facets of American life. The Commission’s January meeting agenda will reveal the diversity of these efforts, with items to enhance both public basic safety and civic engagement.

For decades, broadcasters have got kept what are now known as “public files, ” which disclose community-relevant information such as political advertising sold and data on ownership and the same employment opportunities. But there’s a catch. For too long, the public could barely access the “public” file. It had been maintained only on paper in file cabinets at the actual radio plus TV stations. In the Internet age group, that didn’t make any feeling, so , in 2012, the FCC adopted rules moving television station’s papers public files online, in a main, Commission-hosted database rather than maintaining document files locally at their major studios. TV broadcasters completed their particular transition to the online file in July 2014. In December 2014, the Commission proposed to extend this work by expanding the online public document database to include cable, DBS, broadcast radio, and satellite radio companies.

We are circulating a Report and Order to my colleagues to finalize that changeover. This proposal does not include new disclosure requirements and would reduce long-term costs for industry. This particular modernization of the public inspection file is plain common sense. The development of the Internet and the expansion of broadband infrastructure have transformed the way society accesses information today. Most significant, the public will gain greater transparency and easier access to the information contained in the public files.

To enhance public safety, We are circulating a second proposal to improve the Emergency Alert System (EAS), the national public warning system. We all propose strengthening EAS by advertising participation on the state and nearby levels, supporting greater testing plus awareness of EAS, leveraging technological improvements, and bolstering EAS security. The particular goal is to promote community readiness and ensure that Americans are best served by the warnings and alerts they will receive during emergencies.

To maximize the benefits of high speed for the American people, we not just need to facilitate innovation in locations like public safety and social engagement, but also to make sure all Americans have advanced communications capabilities. The Commission has a statutory mandate in order to assess and report annually upon whether broadband is being deployed to any or all Americans in a reasonable and well-timed fashion. At our January open meeting, we will take up consideration of our latest Broadband Progress Report.

The report’s topline finding is that consumers require access to both fixed and cellular broadband in today’s world. More, while the nation continues to make significant gains in broadband deployment, 34 million Americans still lack entry to fixed high-speed broadband. Rural Us citizens – especially in Tribal Lands — are being disproportionately left behind, with approximately 40 percent of these populations deficient broadband access, compared to 4 % in urban areas. That’s not good enough.

The record maintains the fixed broadband acceleration standard, set last year, of twenty five Mbps downloads/3 Mbps uploads, whilst leaving to future reports the actual specific mobile broadband benchmark ought to be. Hopefully, this report will catalyze a discussion on how we can do better.

From the DE TELLES showrooms to our own living rooms, we all see evidence that wired plus wireless broadband is changing the way we live. As we enter the brand new year, I look forward to working with our colleagues to explore new ways to funnel the power of communications technology to improve the lives of the American people.

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January 7, 2016 — 4: 30 pm

Tom Wheeler | FCC Chairman

It’s the first week within January, and that means it’s period for the annual pilgrimage to Vegas…

Rules by Citation

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

While most FCC enforcement actions take those form of a Notice of Apparent Liability, Forfeiture Order, or Permission Decree, recent events have called attention to another means: FCC details. In summary, current law prevents the FCC from pursuing a fine against a company that is not generally regulated with the Commission unless it is previously released a written citation. While this additional step is intended to provide more notice and due process for non-regulatees, the recent use of citations seems to provide fewer protections than envisioned by the law. Additionally , I am concerned that citations are being used as another tool to expand the FCC’s reach and thus its mission – a maneuver that amounts to regulation by citation. Both problems must be remedied and this can occur whilst working well within the statutory construction that Congress provided.

Process Enhancements

Section 503(b)(5) of the Communications Function provides that no forfeiture responsibility shall be determined against any person who does not hold a license, permit, certification, or other authorization issued by Commission unless, prior to issuance associated with any Notice of Apparent Legal responsibility, such person is “(A) sent a citation of the violation charged; (B) is given a reasonable opportunity for an individual interview with an official of the Percentage at the field office of the Fee which is nearest to such person’s place of residence; and (C) eventually engages in conduct of the type defined in such citation. ”

The purpose of sending a citation and providing an opportunity for the personal interview – before actually contemplating a fine – is to make sure that such businesses understand the FCC guidelines and have the opportunity to come into compliance. Non-regulatees may not pay close attention to FCC proceedings, neither would they have reason to maintain FCC counsel to keep them apprised associated with FCC developments.

However , numerous reports show companies have been blindsided and treated as guilty before they even know what the supposed violations are. In fact , businesses are not always informed associated with citations before they are made public. A lot more startling, the FCC has been known to issue a press release before the focus on even receives its citation copy, which can be days later when it is delivered by postal mail. In an age of ubiquitous and instantaneous social media reactions to any and every perceived outrage, the effect can be devastating. By the time a company discovers of the item, and has a chance to look at and understand the supposed violations, it may have already been tried in the court associated with public opinion based solely within the FCC’s view of the facts, which may or may not be correct.

The Commission need to change its procedures so that details are not publicized until after the focus on has had the opportunity to avail itself of the interview and respond to the claimed violations, which occurs within thirty days of the issuance of the citation. This would in no way detract from the Enforcement Bureau’s ability to pursue an investigation, or a fine if warranted. The company would nevertheless receive the citation and could face further enforcement action. Nor would it take away from the Commission’s ability to use a quotation as a deterrent for other companies because the citation (unless rescinded after discussions with the target) would still turn out to be public. It would merely delay distribution for a reasonable and limited time-frame. Since the goal of enforcement is certainly compliance, not immediate headlines, this would not be a problem.

Disturbing Substantive Direction

Because citations are issued towards companies that may not be as familiar with the Act and FCC guidelines, I am especially troubled that the FCC would use citations to break brand new legal ground, as it recently do when it issued citations against Lyft and First National Bank.

It is challenging enough when the FCC issues an enforcement action in the absence of any rules. I have opposed the practice on multiple occasions because it is unfair (and unlawful) to expect companies in order to guess what the Enforcement Bureau might find objectionable. In addition , because such procedures are shielded from public remark, there is no opportunity for other businesses that might be impacted in the future to object to novel legal theories.

When a new lawful argument is put forth in a citation, it is even less likely that a non-regulatee would be able to foresee that its perform would violate the Act. Furthermore, such a company, without the benefit of experience or FCC counsel, may merely assume that the citation is based on resolved law. Therefore , they may be even less inclined to challenge something that really amounts to an unlawful expansion of the FCC’s jurisdiction. But that won’t prevent the agency from treating the citation as if it were precedent in other contexts—hence, the reality of regulation by citation.

Instead, the FCC ought to refrain from issuing citations that have no basis in Commission rules. When the agency spots conduct that it thinks should be unlawful, it is always free to initiate a notice of proposed rulemaking to address it. A simple rule change can be effectuated in a reasonable amount of time while providing fair notice and an opportunity to comment. Any additional time may be worth it to ensure that the Commission is definitely on solid legal footing.

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January 5, 2016 : 1: 30 pm

Michael O' Rielly | Commissioner

While most FCC enforcement activities take the form of a Notice associated with Apparent Liability, Forfeiture…