On September 10, 2014, I’ll be addressing wireless net neutrality on September 10 at the 4G World event co-located with CTIA2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m participating in a panel session entitled Who Pays for Mobile Network Infrastructure in a Post Net-Neutrality 4G World. You can register for 4G World HERE.
This post is a parody of “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” written by Galileo Galilei in 1632, which attempted to prove that the earth revolves around the sun (the Copernican system). Although the Copernican system was ultimately proven to be scientifically correct, Galileo was convicted of heresy and his book was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books for more than two hundred years.
Galileo’s book was written as a dialogue between three characters, Salviati, who supported Galileo’s view, Simplicio, who believed the universe revolves around the earth (the Ptolemaic system), and Sagredo, an open-minded person with no established position. In this parody, Salviati supports the use of actual or de facto guard bands between broadcast and mobile services, Simplicio supports the FCC’s competing guard band proposals in the 600 MHz and 700 MHz bands, and Sagredo remains open-minded.
Salviati, Sagredo, Simplicio
SALVIATI. We resolved to meet today and discuss the differences in the FCC’s approach to the potential for harmful interference between broadcast and mobile services in the 600 MHz band on the one hand and the lower 700 MHz band on the other. Read More
” . . . the cooperative process envisioned by the National Broadband Plan is at risk of shifting to the traditionally contentious band plan process that has delayed spectrum auctions in the past.”
The National Broadband Plan proposed a new way to reassign reallocated spectrum. The Plan noted that, “Contentious spectrum proceedings can be time-consuming, sometimes taking many years to resolve, and incurring significant opportunity costs.” It proposed “shifting [this] contentious process to a cooperative one” to “accelerate productive use of encumbered spectrum” by “motivating existing licensees to voluntarily clear spectrum through incentive auctions.” Congress implemented this recommendation through legislation requiring the FCC to transition additional broadcast spectrum to mobile use through a voluntary incentive auction process rather than traditional FCC mandates.
Among other things, the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking initiating the broadcast incentive auction proceeding proposed a “lead” band plan approach and several alternative options, including the “down from 51” approach. An overwhelming majority of broadcasters, wireless providers, equipment manufacturers, and consumer groups rejected the “lead” approach and endorsed the alternative “down from 51” approach. This remarkably broad consensus on the basic approach to the band plan promised to meet the goals of the National Broadband Plan by accelerating the proceeding and motivating voluntary participation in the auction.
That promise was broken when the FCC’s Wireless Bureau unilaterally decided to issue a Public Notice seeking additional comment on a variation of the FCC’s “lead” proposal as well as a TDD approach to the band plan. The Bureau issued this notice over the objection of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who issued a separate statement expressing his concern that seeking comment on additional approaches to the band plan when there is a “growing consensus” in favor of the “down from 51” approach could unnecessarily delay the incentive auction. This statement “peeved” Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge, who declared that there is no consensus and that the “down from 51” plan would be a “disaster.” As a result, the cooperative process envisioned by the National Broadband Plan is at risk of shifting to the traditionally contentious band plan process that has delayed spectrum auctions in the past. Read More
Frontline relied on the DOJ foreclosure theory to predict that the lack of eligibility restrictions in the 700 MHz auction would “inevitably” increase prices, stifle innovation, and reduce the diversity of service offerings as Verizon and AT&T warehoused the spectrum. In reality, the exact opposite occurred.
The DOJ recently recommended that the FCC rig the upcoming incentive auction to ensure Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile are winners and Verizon and AT&T are losers. I previously noted that the DOJ spectrum plan (1) inconsistent with its own findings in recent merger proceedings and the intent of Congress, (2) inherently discriminatory, and (3) irrational as applied. Additional analysis indicates that it isn’t supported by economic theory or FCC factual findings either. Read More
At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, I was surprised that nobody had access to 4G mobile Internet services. How could Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain and host to the “world’s premier mobile industry event,” lack access to 4G? In the opening day keynote session, Vittorio Colao, Vodafone’s CEO, said Europe has only 6% of the world’s LTE connections, and Telefónica’s CEO, César Alierta, said only 17% of European mobile subscribers have smartphones. European mobile operators agreed they are lagging the world in 4G deployment and penetration due to existing price regulations that discourage new infrastructure investments.
Europe now stands at a crossroads: Does it adopt the modern, investment-based approach toward wireless markets that made the US the world’s 4G leader, or does it further increase regulation and impose new obligations on “over the top” (e.g., Skype) services? Our history with the regulation of rural telephone companies demonstrates the perils of the second option. Yet European mobile operators appear ready to embrace new regulations as a means to enhance their business and create a “balanced relationship” with “US companies” that provide over the top (OTT) services. Read More
At yesterday’s oversight hearing of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US Senate, Commissioner McDowell said the rules governing the “C Block” in the upper 700 MHz band were responsible for its lack of interoperability. This wasn’t the first time someone has misunderstood what drove the development of the 700 MHz band plan in the US and the 3GPP process that developed LTE standards for the band, and I don’t expect it will be the last.
The 700 MHz band plan is complex and riddled with exceptions based on its unique history. I presented a keynote describing that history and its impact on the band to an international audience at 4G World last year. The keynote explained why the US couldn’t simply adopt the technically more efficient and interoperable “APT” band plan for 700 MHz that is preferred in Asia and was recently adopted by Mexico. The presentation I gave at 4G World is available here: 4G World 700 MHz Keynote.
Congress recently mandated that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) make additional spectrum available through a novel incentive auction designed to transition television broadcast spectrum to mobile use. The FCC’s task is to adequately compensate television broadcasters for relinquishing their spectrum while ensuring such spectrum is rapidly transitioned to mobile uses that benefit consumers nationwide.
Today AT&T announced that it would invest an additional $14 billion in the next three years to expand its 4G LTE network to cover 300 million people and expand its wired all-IP broadband infrastructure to 75 percent of its customer locations throughout its 22-state wired service area. For many consumers, this investment will provide their first opportunity for access to high-speed broadband at home. For many others, it will provide their first opportunity to make a choice among competing providers of high-speed broadband services. This impressive commitment to transition outdated communications infrastructure to an all-IP future will benefit millions of consumers and accelerate our Internet transformation nationwide.
If the FCC had adopted the eligibility restrictions proposed by PISC in 2007, the United States would not have achieved the LTE leadership touted by current FCC Chairman Genachowski.
I was pleased to see FCC Chairman Genachowski praise the market-based policies of his predecessors in his remarks at Vox last week. He noted that the United States is currently leading the world in next generation mobile wireless services with 69 percent of the world’s LTE subscribers, which he attributes to “smart government policies.” He didn’t mention, however, that the “smart government policies” that led to America’s renewed mobile leadership were based on market principles adopted by the previous FCC.
The Communications Liberty and Innovation Project submitted these comments in response to the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released on March 21, 2012, in the 700 MHz interoperability proceeding. A PDF version of these comments can be . Read More