Wireless

Statement On FCC’s Action To Accelerate 5G Wireless Deployment

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Wireless | No Comments

Washington, DC, March 22, 2018 – Fred Campbell, director of Tech Knowledge, issued the following statement regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to streamline the deployment of wireless infrastructure in order to accelerate the deployment of 5G wireless networks:

“The wireless industry around the world is racing to deploy the fifth generation (‘5G’) of wireless technology. 5G will fully mobilize the high-speed internet by delivering desk-top speeds and seamless interconnectivity to mobile devices.

Today’s action removes a significant barrier to enjoying the benefits of this new technology by clarifying that historical and environmental reviews aimed at traditional cell towers don’t apply to the significantly smaller and lower antennas that will be used for 5G deployments. The FCC’s existing historical and environmental review requirements will remain in place for large cell sites, but not for small, unobtrusive sites at low heights.

This approach strikes the right balance between the goals of preserving our heritage and a harmonious environment with the need to promote innovation and technological progress. It is appropriate to conserve the traditional approach for traditional structures while recognizing that small, next generation 5G sites don’t fit the rationale for the traditional approach.

The FCC should be commended for taking swift, conservative action to enable next generation technology that will help accelerate the deployment of high-speed broadband networks throughout the U.S.”

Tech Knowledge promotes market-oriented technology policies on behalf of the public interest. Additional information about Tech Knowledge can be found on our website, techknowledge.center.

Lame Duck FCC Claims Free Data Harms Consumers?

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Video, Wireless | No Comments

Free data plans like T-Mobile’s Binge On let consumers stream internet video without counting their data usage toward monthly caps. The Federal Communications Commission has recognized these plans can benefit consumers and competition. What’s not to like about free data?

According to the lame duck FCC, the answer depends on who’s offering it. The FCC’s outgoing chairman said T-Mobile’s Binge On service is pro-competitive and pro-innovation. According to a recent FCC letter, however, it’s “anticompetitive” when AT&T gives free data to its mobile customers who subscribe to DirecTV’s streaming video service. That’s par for the course with the current FCC, which is more interested in picking industry’s winners and losers than protecting consumers.

That appears to be what the FCC is doing in this case. The agency’s letter acknowledges that AT&T offers the same payment terms to all companies that want to take advantage of free data services. AT&T doesn’t treat DirecTV any differently than it treats Netflix, Hulu, or any other video streaming provider. Read More

Tech Knowledge Reply Comments In BDS Proceeding

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Wireless | No Comments

Today, Tech Knowledge filed the following comments at the Federal Communications Commission in its proceeding to regulate business data services (BDS). The complete comments as filed can be downloaded in PDF format HERE. (Note, the HTLM version of the comments printed below does not contain the footnotes provided in the PDF version available at the link above and filed at the FCC.)

Introduction

Tech Knowledge submits these comments to emphasize a single point: the data does not support arguments that prospective 5G deployments require price regulation of fiber-based wireless backhaul in any market. Read More

Tech Knowledge Comments on 2.3 GHz Performance Requirements

Posted by | Smart Grid, Wireless | No Comments

Today Tech Knowledge filed the following comments at the Federal Communications Commission in support of a request for relief from interim performance requirements for the 2.3 GHz Wireless Communications Service. The complete comments as filed can be downloaded in PDF format HERE. (Note, the HTLM version of the comments printed below does not contain the footnotes provided in the PDF version available at the link above and filed at the FCC.) Read More

What Does ‘Competition’ Mean At The FCC?

Posted by | Regulatory State, Wireless | No Comments

The question I would ask Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler at tomorrow’s congressional oversight hearing is, how does the agency define “competition”? The answer to this one question—the FCC does not have a definition of competition that it applies consistently—is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the agency.

Chairman Wheeler chose “competition, competition, competition” as his guiding principle without defining what “competition” means at the FCC. Relying on a guiding principle with no specified meaning is like steering a ship with no rudder: There is no telling where the ship (FCC) will end up after it leaves port (e.g., initiates a new regulatory proceeding).

The FCC’s rudderless approach to competition results in discriminatory regulations that erode public trust in the agency’s impartiality and the rule of law. For example, scholars on both sides of the aisle have long recognized that the FCC’s use of its merger authority “lead[s] to one set of rules for those who have merged and another set of rules for similarly situated parties who have not.” Even worse, discriminatory regulations that are adopted in the name of “competition” during FCC merger review are not practically subject to judicial review. Read More

Sprint’s Decision To Skip Wireless Auction “Highlights The Folly” Of Federal Hubris

Posted by | Regulatory State, Wireless | No Comments

Few industry analysts seemed surprised when Sprint’s new CEO announced “after thorough analysis” that the company won’t participate in next year’s auction of TV broadcast spectrum (known as the “incentive auction”). Analysts already knew that Sprint “has the spectrum it needs to deploy its network architecture of the future.” As a senior telecommunications analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence said in response to the news, “Sprint really has a lot more spectrum than its rivals, so they don’t have that pressing need to get more.”

The announcement is an embarrassment to the Department of Justice (DOJ), which apparently didn’t know (or didn’t care) that Sprint was flush with spectrum for the foreseeable future. When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was developing its auction rules, the DOJ urged it to “ensure” that both Sprint and T-Mobile would “win” spectrum in the auction. The DOJ believed Sprint and T-Mobile had to win “low-frequency” spectrum in the auction in order to compete against Verizon and AT&T in the mobile marketplace. The FCC agreed with the DOJ’s expert opinion and decided to “reserve” the auction’s best spectrum for bidders other than AT&T and Verizon.

Though it’s no surprise, it’s now obvious the country’s federal experts on competition and antitrust matters were wrong in their analysis of Sprint’s alleged need for low-frequency spectrum in order to compete. The agencies were blind to Sprint’s effort to leverage Washington to its business advantage even though Sprint used the same tactics just a few years ago in the last major spectrum auction. As FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai recently noted, “Sprint’s decision not to participate in the incentive auction highlights the folly of the FCC’s attempt to pick winners and losers before the auction begins.” It’s been less than a year since Sprint told the FCC that it would be “unable to make up much, if any, ground” competing against Verizon and AT&T if the FCC didn’t expand its existing spectrum reserve so that Sprint could acquire additional spectrum. It was only after the FCC completed its spectrum reserve proceeding that Sprint announced it doesn’t need the spectrum after all. Read More

FCC’s LightSquared Scandal: Another Solyndra In The Making?

Posted by | Wireless | No Comments

Remember the Solyndra scandal? Solyndra was a shaky solar panel company backed by the Department of Energy through a process “infused with politics at every level.” When Solyndra finally collapsed, it left taxpayers liable for $535 million in federal guarantees.

Solyndra pales in comparison to what’s at stake with LightSquared, another shaky company that went bankrupt after betting on billions of dollars in government benefits. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) initially doled out government benefits to LightSquared in 2010, when a trio of agency bureau chiefsillegally granted LightSquared a nationwide cellular license in a spectrum band allocated for satellite communications. LightSquared wanted to convert the satellite frequencies into far more valuable cellular spectrum, “much as a developer would use a change in zoning to make land more valuable,” but its plan backfired when a host of other government agencies and companies proved that LightSquared’s proposed network would interfere with the Global Positioning System (GPS). Read More

T-Mobile Spectrum Song Is A Broken Record At The FCC

Posted by | Wireless | No Comments

This week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is voting on procedures for an upcoming auction of spectrum (or airwaves) that will expand wireless broadband services to Apple and Android devices. Like bidders on eBay, it’s natural that spectrum bidders want to win big while paying as little as possible. It’s not natural for eBay or any other auctioneer to help some bidders win big by discriminating against other bidders, yet that’s what the FCC decided to do last year when it ruled that Verizon and AT&T can’t bid against T-Mobile or other bidders for nearly half of the spectrum expected at auction.

The FCC’s decision to shelter T-Mobile from competition for such a large portion of the spectrum for sale counts as a big win for T-Mobile before the auction even starts. But a bidding preference for nearly half of the spectrum still isn’t big enough to satisfy T-Mobile, who’s demanding an even bigger handout. The company claims it can’t buy the spectrum it needs unless the FCC gives it an additional unfair bidding advantage for more than half of the spectrum. Read More