Accelerating Broadband, Part II

Posted by: Joan Marsh on October 2, 2014 at 12:51 pm

A couple months ago, the FCC unanimously adopted an order streamlining the rules for tower marking and lighting.  That was the first in a series of Wireless Bureau items designed to remove regulatory obstacles to clear the way for more efficient broadband deployment.  The Bureau is now moving forward with an even more ambitious effort to rationalize the rules around tower siting and approvals. Reform in this area is not a simple exercise of cutting through regulatory red tape.

Tower deployment is governed by a complex web of environmental, historic, safety and tribal requirements that require input and approval from a broad range of federal, state and local governmental authorities and non-governmental entities.  Detailed programmatic agreements further define requirements and inform the scope of permissible reform.  Yet modernization of the rules is essential, as the current requirements inhibit efficient broadband deployment, particularly given the continued movement by the wireless industry toward more low profile antennas and equipment and builds on existing non-tower structures.

At AT&T, infrastructure deployment is a prime directive.   For the past six years (2008-2013), AT&T has invested more in United States infrastructure than any other U.S. public company.  And we expect to continue that investment in the $21 billion range this year. That’s why the FCC’s focus on infrastructure deployment is so welcome.

The item circulated by the Bureau last week is expected to contain a series of straight-forward and sensible reforms consistent with programmatic requirements that will expedite environmental and historic preservation review of new and modified wireless facilities.  We also believe the item will provide much needed clarification of certain federal statutes that were enacted to streamline state and local review of wireless infrastructure proposals.

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AT&T Statement on the
Introduction of the LEADS Act

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on September 18, 2014 at 4:36 pm

The following statement may be attributed to Tim McKone, AT&T Executive Vice President of Federal Relations:

“AT&T applauds Senators Hatch, Coons and Heller, and their staff members, on their effort to ensure customer privacy is protected when government officials seek information stored outside of the U.S. The LEADS Act makes clear that U.S. officials cannot reach foreign data under a search warrant, merely because a U.S.–based provider is storing the data.  The legislation also clearly provides that a court issuing a warrant under this act will be required to modify or vacate the warrant if the court finds that the warrant would require the U.S. provider to violate the laws of a foreign country.  AT&T looks forward to working with the Senators and the entire Congress on these types of privacy safeguards as the bill moves forward.”

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Interference on the Line

Posted by: Joan Marsh on September 18, 2014 at 3:07 pm

In May, the FCC issued a comprehensive incentive auction framework order that represented a substantial step toward a successful auction.  While the order resolved many open issues, it also set the stage for a series of new ones and the published list of follow-on proceedings made clear that significant work remains to be done.

Of the open issues, the one that is of greatest concern for auction success is the service rules that will be adopted for the unlicensed services that the FCC has concluded should be permitted in the 600 MHz duplex gap.  In the order, the FCC expressed confidence that unlicensed TVWS (TV white space) devices can operate in a 6 MHz channel in the duplex gap adjacent to a 4 MHz licensed wireless microphone channel without causing interference to neighboring licensed allocations.  The FCC further tentatively concluded that unlicensed devices operating at 40 mWs were viable, even with no separation from licensed wireless uplink.  Importantly, the order contained no technical analysis supporting this conclusion, leaving open the question of how these proposals were justified.

The Commission, however, correctly concluded that, consistent with the Spectrum Act, use of the guard bands would be subject to the Commission’s ultimate determination that such use will not cause harmful interference to licensed services.  We agree that such a determination is essential – interference issues that were left unresolved in the 700 MHz band plan created significant post-auction deployment challenges.  Indeed, the 700 MHz A block remains significantly under-deployed even today, six years after the auction.

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AT&T Response to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s Future of Broadband Speech

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on September 4, 2014 at 1:58 pm

The following may be attributed to Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs:

“Today, Chairman Wheeler highlighted the need for faster and better broadband, and for all Americans to have more competitive broadband choices.  We couldn’t agree more.  AT&T has been investing vigorously to make that vision a reality.  Since 2008, AT&T has invested nearly $119 billion, much of that to provide Americans with competitive broadband services, both wired and wireless.  These have included our award-winning U-Verse service, our Project VIP broadband expansion, our Mobile 4G LTE network, and, most recently, our GigaPower service being deployed in locations across the country.  Just yesterday, in fact, we announced that we will bring our GigaPower service to St. Louis, adding to our list of up to 100 cities and municipalities nationwide that will receive our ultra-fast fiber network.  In addition, our proposed merger with DIRECTV will expand and enhance broadband to 15 million locations, more than 11 million of which are outside our wireline footprint, primarily in rural areas.  Much of this investment commitment will bring broadband to consumers who either lack broadband entirely, or who have only one provider — exactly the problematic situations Chairman Wheeler highlighted today.  In short, we agree with Chairman Wheeler’s vision that all consumers should have access to robust broadband, and that they should have a competitive choice of providers.  We will continue to work with the FCC and other policymakers to remove any barriers that inhibit or hinder the infrastructure investment needed to make that vision a reality.”

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NAB’s Incentive Auction Lawsuit – A Detour not a Road Block

Posted by: Joan Marsh on August 21, 2014 at 9:38 am

Earlier this week, NAB filed suit in Federal Court challenging aspects of the Commission’s May Incentive Auction Order.  NAB’s lawsuit was not a surprise – NAB had made pretty clear that it was unhappy with how the Commission was proposing to implement elements of the Spectrum Act, particularly as related to statutory protections provided to broadcasters subject to repacking.  NAB lobbied hard in the legislative process for protections on repacking so it is also not a surprise that it is continuing to vigorously pursue these issues on behalf of its members.

While the issues raised by NAB are significant and deserve careful consideration, we do not think this lawsuit will become a road block to further progress on the auction.  An incentive auction, by definition, requires the FCC to bring together competing interests and strike a delicate balance between protecting incumbent rights and freeing up new spectrum allocations sufficient to attract bidder interest.  This exercise raises complexities never before seen in an FCC auction and it is inevitable that there will be differences of opinion and occasional detours of process as we move forward.

NAB has now stated its case in a Petition that was filed on the first day of the appellate period and has sought expedited review.  Even more significantly, NAB indicated in a blog  that it was looking for a “mid-course correction” that addresses its concerns, surely a signal that NAB is willing to consider a reasonable compromise.

Compromise must continue to be the hallmark of the incentive auction proceeding.  We have to date seen a healthy and productive amount of give and take between the FCC and industry on a range of auction issues, from the band plan to the auction framework to bidding restrictions.  And we believe that the issues raised by NAB can similarly be resolved — and resolved quickly — in a manner that protects broadcasters consistent with the dictates of the statute while achieving the auction efficiencies that the FCC wants and needs to conduct a successful auction.   




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TOPICS: FCC, Spectrum
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