Posts by Michael Marcus
I recall being at FCC in 1981 when the Reagan budget cuts came rolling with the new Administration and Congress. FCC like most other agencies were viewed as an “enemy of the people” to be held on the shortest budget leash using “zero based budgeting”. I has been the 157th person hired in OET’s predecessor in 1979, I believe OET’s staffing is now around 90. Prior to these budget cuts, there was a policy research budget controlled by OPP. It was used for starting what now is called Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as well as exploring how much UHF spectrum could be made available if TV receivers were better.
Section 7 of the Communications Act (47 USC 157) has been law since 1983. It states:
157. New technologies and services
(a) It shall be the policy of the United States to encourage the provision of new technologies and services to the public. Any person or party (other than the Commission) who opposes a new technology or service proposed to be permitted under this chapter shall have the burden to demonstrate that such proposal is inconsistent with the public interest.
This is a major controversy brewing at FCC over its 1/26/11 Order and Authorization to LightSquared authorizing them to offer terrestrial service, in addition to mobile satellite service, in a band just below the band used by privately owned GPS systems. This struggle has all the things that make spectrum policy interesting - I will leave out the boring technical details here as they are in my own blog:
• An aggrieved incumbent claiming the new entrant will cause massive interference.
Last night, President Obama had dinner in Silicon Valley with several local CEOs and VCs. Fresh from his Saturday Night Live appearance, Mark Zuckerberg was one of the guests and appears to be sitting next to the President in pictures of the event.
Yesterday FCC released a Report and Order amending its ex parte rules, a frequent topic in my personal blog.
Here are the basic results in this rulemaking:
The White House announced today “Startup America”, “a plan for winning the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world.”
President Obama said, “Entrepreneurs embody the promise of America: the belief that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard and see it through, you can succeed in this country. And in fulfilling this promise, entrepreneurs also play a critical role in expanding our economy and creating jobs. That’s why we're launching Startup America, a national campaign to help win the future by knocking down barriers in the path of men and women in every corner of this country hoping to take a chance, follow a dream, and start a business.”
NTIA’s parent, the Department of Commerce, seems fully committed to the program
On Tuesday, January 18, the FCC announced its approval of the multibillion dollar merger of Comcast and NBC-Universal. Others have strong views on the merits of this merger and, as a techie, your blogger will not take a stand on its basic merits, but would like to take this opportunity to make some related observations.
In June I had a post here entitled "Should the Public Have to Pay $1149 to Hear FCC Officials Talk About Broadband Policy?". In it I pointed out that 2 commercial groups were sponsoring in conjunction with the FCBA a seminar on broadband issues and you could hear a wide variety of officials from FCC, NTIA, and State speak for only $1149. At the time I made a suggestion for reform:
"FCC should adopt an internal policy that its officials will not speak at events charging more than a certain amount, say $100, UNLESS the sponsors provide a video of the official’s remarks - including questions and answers - within 24 hours after the event for posting at the FCC web site."
An article by columnist Mark Scherer entitled “Cell-Phone Safety: What the FCC Didn't Test” is in this week’s Time magazine. It points out
"FCC testing regulations notably chose not to simulate a situation in which the phone was broadcasting at full power while inside a shirt or pants pocket flush against the body, an odd oversight given the known habits of many cellular-phone users. As a matter of physics, radio-frequency energy generally increases sharply as distance is reduced. "The exposure is definitely related to distance," says (retired FCC RF safety expert Robert) Cleveland."
In June I wrote an entry here entitled "Should the Public Have to Pay $1149 to Hear FCC Officials Talk About Broadband Policy?". It did not get much response. In a mere 6 months the price of the next Practising Law Institute event, "28th Annual Institute on Telecommunications Policy & Regultation" has increased to $1595! The brochure clearly states "Q&A: FCC Commissioners and other senior officials will answer your questions". Probably worth the price of admission for this alone!
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.-- 1st AMENDMENT
For about 10 years FCC has been facilitating the public availability of data on the specific absorption rate (SAR) of cell phone models sold in the US and pointing out that people concerned about unknown safety risks of cell phone use might want models with lower SARs. While there is no proof or evidence that cell phone emissions cause ANY health problems, exposure to such power is not necessarily health enhancing either.
I received an announcement today about "Broadband Policy Summit VI: Implementing the National Plan". This event is cosponsored by two commercial organizations, BNA and Pike & Fischer, in association with the FCBA. The speakers include
· Meredith Attwell Baker, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
· Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, and Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), U.S. Department of Commerce
· Ambassador Philip L. Verveer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, U.S. Department of State
· Edward P. Lazarus, Chief of Staff, Federal Communications Commission
"Harmful Interference"/HI is the test FCC uses to see if a new spectrum use is acceptable with repect to incumbent uses. All radio systems impact other systems, or at least have since Marconi built his 2nd radio. Thus it is important to limit this impact and FCC does so through the HI criterion. In effect, HI is also vital in determining whether spectrum can be reallocated. As demand for spectrum to support mobile and fixed broadband increased, HI is a key factor in allocation decisions. It will probably be crucial in the followon to the spectrum inventory in determining whether the vacant spectrum that is discovered can actually be used.
We are an unusual "nuclear" family. Unusual in the sense that I worked at FCC for almost 25 years and my wife's career was mostly in the nuclear power area and included 13 years at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Thus in our household we have experience at 2 different regulatory commissions - probably a rare occurrence even in Washington.
This week was NRC's annual Regulatory Information Conference (RIC)
and we dropped by together to register her Monday afternoon and I was there yesterday for a bit to catch the flavor and go to some private company receptions in conjunction with the conference since I know many people in that industry.
Thanks to Mr. X-Parte for his excellent video on the FCC's recent ex parte NPRM.
I have been blogging on ex parte reform on my own blog for a while and have repeatedly complained to the FCC about the entity that I believe is the worst offender. Indeed, I have a petition for review of the latest in a series of staff rejections of complaints that has been pending before the Commission since September 2008.
In that petition, I quote former Commissioner Abernathy who
said to an ITU meeting
“I believe that transparency is best achieved through the creation and publication of clear rules.
reports that The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved
S. 649, the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act, which would give the NTIA
and FCC 180 days to present Congress with a complete inventory of the
radio frequencies that they manage from 300 Megahertz to 3.5 Gigahertz.
The key provision of the bill is a new Section 342 of the Communications
Act that would read: