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Broadband Roundup: Companies Impact Global Tech Standards, Accelerating C-Band Clearing, Experts Debate Antitrust

Jericho Casper

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Photo of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in December 2018 by Gage Skidmore used with permission

June 16, 2020 — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced a new rule on Monday which he claimed will ensure the country’s telecommunications industry is able to fully contribute to global standards development activities.

The new Bureau of Industry and Security rule allows licenses previously not required from American organizations to be disclosed for the purpose of increasing U.S. influence in global technology standards.

Ross claimed that the passing of the rule would allow U.S. corporations to collaborate with global entities for the advancement of industry, therefore ensuring compatibility and interoperability.

“The United States will not cede leadership in global innovation,” he said. “This action recognizes the importance of harnessing American ingenuity to advance and protect our economic and national security.”

SES to build four new satellites as part of accelerated C-Band clearing plan

SES, a leader in satellite communications solutions, announced in a press release on Tuesday that it has selected two U.S. satellite manufacturers, Northrop Grumman and the Boeing Company, to deliver four new satellites as part of the company’s accelerated C-band clearing plan.

These four satellites will enable SES to clear 280 Megahertz of mid-band spectrum for 5G use, while seamlessly transitioning SES’s existing C-band customers.

“Given the [Federal Communications Commission’s] strong leadership in providing for accelerated clearing of precious C-band spectrum in the U.S., our focus is on delivering on our commitment and making the spectrum available in the shortest possible time while ensuring that we protect the broadcast customers and communities that we have built over 35 years,” said Steve Collar, CEO at SES.

The cost of manufacturing the four satellites is part of the 1.6 billion dollar investment initiative that SES announced in May.

Experts debate antitrust and competition policy

“There is a general view that corporations have come to have too much political power. This is part of a system that is not working well for Americans,” said Carl Shapiro, a professor of economics at UC Berkeley, on a recent episode of antitrust podcast Two Think Minimum.

Shapiro debated with Josh Wright, a professor of law at George Mason University, who maintained that, while markets are getting bigger, modern antitrust institutions are capable of addressing current issues related to corporations increased market power — even the increasingly concentrated power of Big Tech corporations.

Shapiro upheld that the U.S. needs to be more vigilant about anti-trust as market power increases, calling for the government to have a stricter role in horizontal merger enforcement and to block more deals.

The role of the Sherman Act has shrunk greatly since the turn of the twentieth century, he said, and the ills of monopoly corporate power call for a reassessment of the role of the federal government.

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