The Power of Licensed Spectrum

Posted by: Joan Marsh on August 2, 2012 at 2:44 pm

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, or PCAST, recently released a Report on “Realizing the Full Potential of Government-Held Spectrum to Spur Economic Growth.”  The recommendations contained in the Report were driven by the fact that mobile data volumes continue to grow at an astounding pace, and that responding to this demand curve is vital to continued U.S. economic growth, competitiveness and technology leadership.  On these points, we fully agree – there are few issues as pressing for the telecommunications industry as freeing up additional spectrum resources to meet demand and foster sustained economic growth in the wireless sector.

The Report’s core recommendations, however, have generated significant controversy.  The Report found that the new norm for spectrum use should be sharing, not exclusive licensing.  While we agree that sharing paradigms should be explored as another option for spectrum management, sharing technologies have been long promised but remain largely unproven.  The over-eager pursuit of unlicensed sharing models cannot turn a blind eye on the model proven to deliver investment, innovation, and jobs – exclusive licensing.  Industry and government alike must continue with the hard work of clearing and licensing under-utilized government spectrum where feasible.

On that point, we were heartened by statements made by Tom Power, White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Telecommunications, in the days following the Report, clarifying that the Administration has not given up on making parts of 1755-1850 MHz, which he called “this most appealing of spectrum,” available for exclusive commercial use.  As reported by Communications Daily, Mr. Power noted that NTIA has concluded that there are significant opportunities for clearing in that band within the next five years.  We were also happy to hear Mr. Power recommit to the Administration’s goal of reallocating a full 500 MHz of additional spectrum for commercial mobile use.

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Protecting Privacy in a Mobile World

Posted by: Bob Quinn on July 16, 2012 at 9:19 am

On Friday, we filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on privacy issues in today’s mobile world.  In May, the Commission put out a public notice seeking information on the measures wireless service providers take to protect customers’ information on mobile devices. As the Commission acknowledges, the wireless marketplace today is a far cry from what it was five years ago when the agency last looked into this area.
In addition to wireless service providers, the whole wireless ecosystem has evolved to include device manufacturers, OS and social networking platform providers, search engines and browsers, and application developers – all of whom play critical roles in protecting the privacy and security of consumers’ personal information.
Think about the extraordinary range of services available to consumers on their mobile device these days, including talking on the phone, sending e-mails and text messages, a dizzying array of apps, posting on their favorite social networking site, surfing the Internet to see what their favorite bloggers have to say, tweeting or following their friends’ tweets, watching videos, listening to music, seeing what great restaurants are nearby, getting directions on a map to that new boutique your friend just tweeted on, sharing and storing photos, and much more.

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Coming Soon: Telecom’s
1.5Mbps Bridge to Nowhere

Posted by: Bob Quinn on July 13, 2012 at 9:31 am

Tuesday’s House Oversight Hearing with the FCC Commissioners highlighted once again the ongoing debate on the special access issue.  As a refresher, special access services are really not-so-special in today’s Internet age.  These services are generally legacy copper, TDM technology circuits – 95% of which deliver data at 1.5 Mbps, a speed that doesn’t even qualify as “broadband” in the FCC’s latest overhaul of universal service. 

As we have previously pointed out, rather than focus on yesterday’s technology, the FCC should instead be creating a path to transition these legacy services to fiber-based technologies that deliver world-leading broadband speeds to all consumers.  If we focus our policy efforts there, we will speed the deployment of new infrastructure (and new infrastructure investment) as well as create jobs, not only in building that infrastructure and selling IP hardware and equipment, but also by bringing more communities the benefits of being connected to the Global Internet – all goals that have wide, bi-partisan support.

At the hearing, Chairman Genachowski made a few things relatively clear.  

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Unlocking the Value of the
Lower 700 MHz A Block

Posted by: Joan Marsh on June 1, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Today, opening comments are being filed in the FCC’s recently initiated 700 MHz interoperability proceeding.  As our comments fully demonstrate, the interference challenges in the lower 700 MHz band are real and material.  The high power broadcasts permitted in broadcast TV channel 51 and in the 700 MHz lower E block create the potential for debilitating interference into the lower A and B blocks that could dramatically degrade wireless service.  Indeed, these interference concerns led to the creation of 3GPP Band 17, which allows carriers to operate in the B and C blocks while filtering out the interference from the high power transmissions adjacent to the A block.

Despite this clear evidence, some carriers will still insist that an interoperability mandate requiring all carriers in the lower 700 MHz band to rely on Band 12 is both appropriate and necessary to ensure full deployment of the A block.   But such an unprecedented countermanding of industry standards is a lose-lose proposition that could delay LTE deployment and expose millions of current LTE customers to poor reception, dropped calls and slower data speeds. 

Moreover, such a mandate would fall far short of solving the real challenges crippling the A block.

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AT&T on Modernizing Communications Laws

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on May 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm

In case you missed it, the Progressive Policy Institute this week held a conference here in Washington at the National Press Club on the economic implications of the wireless boom. AT&T’s Jim Cicconi delivered remarks that focused on the outdated regulations that stand to affect the growth and innovation of the wireless market. Check out the videos below to hear more from Jim on modernizing current communications laws to better fit the ever changing marketplace, and other panelists talking about the wireless boon.

Here, Jim talks about how the regulatory structure in this country is designed to oversee a wireline voice monopoly, which does not exist today.

And here, Jim talks about how the Telecom Act is out of date and that there’s a need to take a fresh look at modernizing the function of the FCC  as well.

Roger Enter of Recon Analytics discusses his new study, “The Wireless Industry: The Essential Engine of U.S. Economic Growth,” and the impact the wireless industry has on job creation and GDP.

Tom Hazlett, Professor of Law & Economics at the nearby George Mason University, talks about the wireless innovation wave and that it is just beginning.

Mike Mandel, Chief Economic Strategist of the Progressive Policy Institute, addresses how while investment by the government has been falling in recent years, investment by wireless providers is very strong.  Are they “investment heroes”?

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