Go to Appearance > Menu to set "Primary Menu"

Bringing you the latest in Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, wireless and more

Tag archive

Daniel Sepulveda

Experts Debate Lack of Transparency in Federal Spectrum Policy

in Broadband Updates/Broadband's Impact/FCC/Mobile Broadband/NTIA/Transparency/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2010 – Experts gathered last week to discuss problems surrounding transparency in federal spectrum policy and the challenges in addressing the issue.

In a discussion hosted by Public Knowledge, most panelists agreed that the issue of transparency in spectrum markets, especially with regard to federal use of spectrum, is not easily solved.

A recurring point of contention was the question of how to raise governmental consciousness of the price of spectrum, so as to prevent overuse by the government at the expense of the private sector.

“What we are talking about here, if I may use a forbidden word, is centralized planning,” said Gregory Rose, an econometric researcher and analyst. “That kind of planning offers enormous efficiencies. It’s one of the reasons we won the First World War.” Rose went on to suggest that the only way to encourage private sector solutions was to increase centralized government control over federal spectrum.

“[If you want to increase innovation], ironically enough, where we have to start is centralized planning of federal spectrum policy,” he said.

Kathleen Ham, T-Mobile’s director of federal regulatory affairs, was less optimistic. She argued that one of the major problems in government use of spectrum was its inability or unwillingness to pay accurate pricing for the resources it uses.

She cited T-Mobile’s experience with spectrum auctions. “We dealt with 12 government agencies,” Ham said. “We had a really good window after the auction  – not so much before the auction – into their abuses.”

Ham also cited her experience working at the Federal Communications Commission as evidence that the government views itself as, in some sense, above prices.

“One of the things we learned is that the government doesn’t have the same incentives as the commercial sector, frankly, in terms of efficiency,” Ham argued. “I would love to see them actually have to pay for the spectrum they use.”

The benefit of this approach, Ham argued, is that the federal government would be forced to treat spectrum as the scarce resource that it is, thus maximizing efficiency in how the government uses it.

The major obstacle is that this also would require more transparency in how the government audits its usage of spectrum – not something that would necessarily be forthcoming, given that much of federal spectrum usage is related to national security concerns where transparency may not be appropriate.

Larry Strickling, assistant secretary of Commerce for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, touched upon this topic of potentially compromising essential federal functions earlier in the day in a keynote address. Ham saw the issue less charitably, arguing that much of the problem arose from misunderstandings about technology by the government.

“The concept of sharing your spectrum is not something that they’re comfortable with, familiar with,” Ham said. “One government agency said ‘well, it’d be too expensive to turn that equipment on.’”

Other panelists took issue with Ham’s implicit preference for a strictly economic spectrum policy. Daniel Sepulveda, a senior advisor to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., pointed out that the government was not solely obligated to meet a bottom line. “There are almost no economists in the legislature,” Sepulveda said. “And I think there’s a reason for that. Economic efficiency isn’t the end-all, be-all of social policy.”

Rose concurred in Sepulveda’s caution about strictly economic solutions, saying that market mechanisms “notoriously fail” when expected to provide public goods.

Mark MacCarthy, a professor of public policy at Georgetown University, was more skeptical of the centralized approach. “Do you really want all decisions to be done in a centralized fashion?”  MacCarthy asked, calling the idea “draconian.”

However, in response, Public Knowledge Legal Director Harold Feld argued that a draconian approach was necessary, given the generally inefficient habits of the federal government.

“Agencies will never say let’s save money and be spectrally efficient,” Feld said.

How Will Congress Greet the National Broadband Plan? For Clues, Watch the Broadband Breakfast Club

in Broadband TV/Broadband's Impact/FCC/National Broadband Plan by

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2010 – Broadband Census News LLC on Monday released, for FREE, the full-length video of the Broadband Breakfast Club event on March 16, 2010: “Setting the Table for the National Broadband Plan: Where to From Here?

The event is available on BroadbandBreakfast.com at the following link.

The event included key Congressional aides addressing the likely reception of the national broadband plan on Capitol Hill. The event was moderated by Sharon McLoone, Managing Editor, BroadbandBreakfast.com, and the panelists included:

  • Shawn H. Chang, Majority Counsel, Communications and Technology Policy, House Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • Neil Fried, Minority Counsel, Telecommunications, House Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • David Quinalty, Professional Staff Member, Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet
  • Daniel Sepulveda, Senior Advisor, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

Don’t Miss the next Broadband Breakfast Club on Tuesday, April 20, 2010: “International Perspectives on the U.S. National Broadband Plan” Registration is available at http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com.

The Broadband Breakfast Club is sponsored by the International Broadband Electric Communications, Inc., the Telecommunications Industry Association, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and the Benton Foundation.

For further information about sponsorship, contact sylvia@broadbandcensus.com, or call 646-262-4630. The Broadband Breakfast Club is Copyright © Broadband Census News LLC.

Knight Digital Media Center on Attending the Next Broadband Breakfast Club

in Broadband Calendar/FCC/National Broadband Plan by

The Knight Digital Media Center web site promotes the upcoming Broadband Breakfast Club, “Setting the Table for the National Broadband Plan: Where to From Here?”

Track the action. Either attend (if you’re in the DC area) or watch the archived webcast of this March 16 BroadbandBreakfast.com event: Top Congressional tech staffers will discuss Setting the Table for the National Broadband Plan: Where to from Here?. Representatives of the main Congressional committiees hashing over the plan will be there: the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. (Good committees to start monitoring regularly.)

The National Broadband Plan is highly controversial—expect a big political battle here. Large, established businesses such as cable companies, broadcasters, and telcos have much at stake and are throwing substantial lobbying muscle toward protecting their interests. Expect that the there will be changes to the plan between the time it goes to committee and the version that eventually makes it to the floor of Congress.

Another great resource for tracking this issue is Drew Clark’s BroadbandBreakfast.com blog—one of the best sources of news and update for national, regional, and state broadband issues.

The Knight Digital Media Center is a partnership between USC Annenberg and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism funded by the Knight Foundation.

Registration for the event is available at http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com. Confirmed speakers include:

  • Shawn H. Chang, Majority Counsel, Communications and Technology Policy, House Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • Neil Fried, Minority Counsel, Telecommunications, House Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • Brian Hendricks, Minority General Counsel, US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
  • Daniel Sepulveda, Senior Advisor, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

FCC To Release National Broadband Plan One Day Early, at March 16 Open Meeting

in Broadband Calendar/Broadband Updates/FCC/National Broadband Plan by

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2010 – The Federal Communications Commission plans to release the National Broadband Plan on Tuesday, March 16, at its March open meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. at agency headquarters at 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C.

The release of the plan comes one day before it is formally due to Congress, on March 17. The plan had been due on February 17, one year after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act within a month of President Obama taking office. The FCC requested and received a one-month extension.

In it’s announcement that its March meeting will be fully occupied by presentations on the national broadband plan, the agency also waived its normal prohibition on “ex parte” presentations in the seven days leading up to an agency meeting. Such ex parte presentations provide an opportunity for lobbyists and interested parties to address FCC commissioners outside the formal rule-making process.

Lobbyists and othere interested parties are still required to file disclosure statements about the contents of their communications with agency officials.

The FCC March meeting begins shortly after the conclusion of the monthly March Broadband Breakfast Club, which runs from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 16, 2010. The theme for the March Broadband Breakfast Club is “Setting the Table for the National Broadband Plan: Where to From Here?” The event will consider how the national broadband plan will be received on Capitol Hill. Registration for the event is available at http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com. Confirmed speakers include:

  • Shawn H. Chang, Majority Counsel, Communications and Technology Policy, House Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • Neil Fried, Minority Counsel, Telecommunications, House Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • Brian Hendricks, Minority General Counsel, US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
  • Daniel Sepulveda, Senior Advisor, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

Go to Top