WASHINGTON, February 11, 2009 – Acting Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Copps said he had “no idea” how long he will hold the gavel, but he has no intention of being a mere seat-warmer.
Speaking at a press briefing Wednesday morning, Copps outlined an ambitious agenda of institutional reform, welcoming Congress’ investment in broadband deployment, and emphasizing his plans to encourage more growth in high-speed networks.
Most the briefing was devoted to the upcoming transition to digital television. Originally set for February 17, last week Congress moved the date of the transition to June 12, 2009.
Speaking about the broadband stimulus legislation that passed the Senate on Tuesday and is currently in conference negotiations, Copps said that the FCC is “trying to hit the ground running” to collect better data on broadband availability.
The agency will have no problem coming up with definitions of unserved and underserved areas within the 45 day period imposed by the bill. Regardless of who is in charge of administering the stimulus bill’s grant programs, Copps stressed that the FCC is ready to do its part to foster inter-agency cooperation to ensure the public’s dollars are well spent.
One of Copps’ initial goals at the FCC is to reopen lines of communication within the FCC. Better communication will “unleash the huge reservoirs of talent, energy and intellect” at the agency, he said.
Every commissioner should be included in the flow of information between the FCC’s various bureaus — a sharp contrast to what he called “opaque” practices that were commonplace under former chairman Kevin Martin. Martin was often criticized for keeping other commissioners in the dark on important decisions, and for hindering communication between the bureaus.
Copps said he had already begun to include representatives from each commissioner’s office at the weekly meeting of bureau chiefs. He also said he wants to ensure that “synergies” within the agency are taken full advantage of. The bureaus should know what the other bureaus are doing. Such policies would ensure that “everyone [at the FCC] has a better idea of what is going on,” he said.
Copps was adamant about revitalizing the culture and mission of the FCC. “We need transparency in this agency,” he said, emphasizing that the FCC is consumer protection agency. The commission should focus on its goal of serving the public interest, rather than acting as “a referee between well-heeled interests.”
The commission needs to make it easier to include consumer input in its decisions as well as make proceedings and information more accessible to the public, Copps said.
Referring to the generally terse notices of ex parte proceedings — issued when a party meets with a single commissioner, Copps said the public should be able to know more than about them than “such-and-such Inc. met with Commissioner Copps, they talked about retransmission consent, period.”
“That’s not a public record that a transparent agency needs to have,” he said. “Knowing who met with who is important, but so is knowing what is actually said.”
The FCC also needs to return to a “culture of predictability,” Copps said. The commission should operate based upon rules and “fact-based” policymaking, he said, and use information gathered professionally and neutrally – as “an agency acting under rule of law.”
Reaching those goals would “take a while to get all the way,” he said, noting that he was encouraged by the open government initiatives of the new administration that would allow the agency to better perform in the public interest.
As regards the national broadband strategy called for by the fiscal stimulus legislation current in conference committee, Copps said that a nationwide broadband network can’t be built in an uncoordinated fashion.
Getting it done will depend on successful public-private partnerships, and the innovative ideas they can generate, he said. Copps noted that well-executed infrastructure projects have always relied on created policy environments that foster successful partnerships. Why it hasn’t been done with broadband remains a mystery, he said.
Copps also announced the dates for upcoming open meetings going into the next three months, and while he acknowledged he won’t be running the show forever, he may yet be in the driver’s seat for some time.
It has been widely reported that President Obama had selected Julius Genachowski, a former aide to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt and a Harvard Law School classmate of Obama’s, to fill the chairman’s seat. Senate Commerce Committee staff said that no confirmation hearing has been scheduled since they had not yet recieved Genechowski’s official nomination papers.
Cable Group NCTA Says Deny Exclusive Multitenant Access, But Not Wiring, Agreements
NCTA said the FCC should deny exclusive access to these buildings, but not exclusive wiring agreements.
WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – The internet and television association NCTA is suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission deny all broadband providers exclusive access to multitenant buildings, but to continue allowing exclusive wiring agreements.
On Tuesday, the FCC opened a new round of comments into its examination of competitive broadband options for residents of apartments, multi-tenant and office buildings.
In a Tuesday ex parte notice to the commission, which follows a formal meeting with agency staff on September 2, the NCTA said the record shows that deployment, competition, and consumer choice in multiple tenant environments “are strong,” and that the FCC can “promote even greater deployment and competition by prohibiting not just cable operators, other covered [multiple video programming distributors], and telecommunications carriers, but all broadband providers from entering into MTE exclusive access agreements.
The organization, whose member companies include Comcast, Cox Communications and Charter Communications, also said it should continue to allow providers to enter into exclusive wiring agreements with MTE owners. Wiring just means that the provider can lay down its cables, like fiber, to connect residents.
“Exclusive wiring agreements do not deny new entrants access to MTEs. Rather, exclusive wiring agreements are pro-competitive and help ensure that state-of-the-art wiring will be deployed in MTEs to the benefit of consumers.”
The NCTA also told the FCC that there would be technical problems with simultaneous sharing of building wires by different providers and vouched for exclusive marketing arrangements, according to the notice.
The FCC’s new round of comments comes after a bill, introduced on July 30 by Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-New York, outlined plans to address exclusivity agreements between residential units and service providers, which sees providers lock out other carriers from buildings and leaving residents with only one option for internet.
Reached for comment on the filing, a spokesman for NCTA said they had nothing to add to the filing, which was signed by Mary Beth Murphy, deputy general counsel to the cable organization.
Hytera’s Inclusion on FCC’s National Security Blacklist ‘Absurd,’ Client Says
Diversified Communications Group said the FCC flubbed on adding Hytera to blacklist.
WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – A client of a company that has been included in a list of companies the Federal Communications Commission said pose threats to the security of the country’s networks is asking the agency to reconsider including the company.
In a letter to the commission on Tuesday, Diversified Communications Group, which installs and distributes two-way radio communications devices to large companies, said the inclusion of Hytera Communications Corporation, a Chinese manufacturer of radio equipment, on a list of national security threats is “absurd” because the hardware involved is not connected to the internet and “does not transmit any sensitive or proprietary data.
“It seems that Hytera has been lumped in with other Chinese companies on the Covered List simply because they happen to manufacture electronics in the same country,” Diversified’s CEO Ryan Holte said in the letter, adding Hytera’s products have helped Diversified’s business thrive.
“This is a wrong that should be righted. Hytera is not a national security risk. They are an essential business partner to radio companies throughout the U.S.,” the CEO added.
In March, the FCC announced that it had designated Hytera among other Chinese businesses with alleged links to the Communist government. Others included Huawei, ZTE, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Dahua Technology.
List among a number of restrictions on Chinese companies
This list of companies was created in accordance with the Secure Networks Act, and the FCC indicated that it would continue to add companies to the list if they are deemed to “pose an unacceptable risk to national security or the security and safety of U.S. persons.”
Last month, the Senate commerce committee passed through legislation that would compel the FCC to no longer issue new equipment licenses to China-backed companies.
Last year the U.S. government took steps to ensure that federal agencies could not purchase goods or services from the aforementioned companies, and had previously added them to an economic blacklist.
In July, the FCC voted in favor of putting in place measures that would require U.S. carriers to rip and replace equipment by these alleged threat companies.
The Biden administration has been making moves to isolate alleged Chinese-linked threats to the country’s networks. In June, the White House signed an executive order limiting investments in predominantly Chinese companies that it said poses a threat to national security.
FCC Says 5 Million Households Now Enrolled in Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
The $3.2 billion program provides broadband and device subsidies to eligible low-income households.
August 30, 2021—The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday that five million households have enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.
The $3.2-billion program, which launched in May, provides a broadband subsidy of $50 per month to eligible low-income households and $75 per month for those living on native tribal lands, as well as a one-time reimbursement on a device. Over 1160 providers are participating, the FCC said, who are reimbursed the cost to provide the discounted services.
The agency has been updating the public on the number of participating households for the program. In June, the program was at just over three million and had passed four million last month. The program was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
“Enrolling five million households into the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program in a little over three months is no small feat,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of nearly 30,000 individuals and organizations who signed up as volunteer outreach partners.”
Rosenworcel added that conversations with partners and the FCC’s analysis shows the need for “more granular data” to bring these opportunities to more eligible families.
The program’s strong demand was seen as far back as March.
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