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FCC Chief Previews Spectrum Recommendations

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Washington, February 26, 2010 – The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission this week previewed his agency’s spectrum recommendations in the FCC’s upcoming national broadband plan to be presented to Congress next month.

In Julius Genachowski’s statement titled “America’s 2020 Vision for Mobile Broadband,” he established that “no area of the broadband ecosystem holds more promise for transformational innovation than mobile.” He added that “without sufficient spectrum, we will starve mobile broadband of the nourishment it needs to thrive as a platform for innovation, job creation and economic growth.”

The chairman’s statement before the New America Foundation comes partially as a response to letters from hundreds of companies – including Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Cisco, Dell, Microsoft, Motorola and Verizon – warning that without more spectrum America’s global leadership in innovation and technology will be threatened.

To meet the goal of having the fastest, most robust and most extensive mobile broadband networks in the most innovative mobile broadband market in the world, Genachowski said the plan must: “Accelerate the broad deployment of mobile broadband by moving to recover and reallocate spectrum; update our 20th century spectrum policies to reflect 21st century technologies and opportunities; remove barriers to broadband buildout, lower the cost of deployment, and promote competition.”

The broadband plan will represent an important step in ensuring that the agency’s stewardship of the airwaves is future oriented and serves the goals of future innovation and investment. To accomplish this first step, the plan must seek to unleash more spectrum.

Genachowski then announced that through collaboration with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the national plan will set a goal of freeing up 500 megahertz of spectrum over the next decade. To achieve this goal, Genachowski wants to ensure that spectrum intended for the commercial marketplace flows to the uses the market values most.

The plan will propose a “Mobile Future Auction” that will permit existing spectrum licensees such as television broadcasters in spectrum starved markets, to voluntarily relinquish spectrum in exchange for a share of auction proceeds, or allow spectrum sharing and other efficiency measures.

“Now that I’ve mentioned broadcast spectrum” said Genachowski, “let me be clear: the recommendation is for a voluntary program.”

The chairman believes that the Mobile Future Auction will allow broadcasters to elect to participate in a mechanism that could save costs and effect a solution to one of the country most significant challenges. The plan targets broadcast spectrum because of the inherent value for mobile broadband locked in the broadcast TV bands (as much as $50 billion) and because this highly valuable spectrum allocated to broadcasters is not being used efficiently. Apparently this is true even after the digital transition. In the very largest cities only about 150 megahertz of every 300 allocated to broadcast television is being used.

The plan also aims to maximize the value of spectrum in bands such as the Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) or Wireless Communications Service (WCS) by giving licensees the flexibility of using the spectrum for mobile broadband the option of voluntarily transferring the license to someone else who will.

“Vital elements of the commission’s charter are to ensure that, in exercising our responsibilities with respect to spectrum, we promote competition and ensure that spectrum use is in the public interest, and of course all spectrum policy decisions will be made with that in mind, “ stated Genachowski.

The National Broadband Plan additionally will encourage innovative uses of spectrum, including “opportunistic” uses to encourage the development of new technologies and new spectrum access models.

Genachowski remarked that “unlicensed spectrum for example, has been a proven test bed for emerging competition, injecting new investment and innovation into the marketplace and spawning new services and devices from Bluetooth to WiFi technology.”

He added: “New ideas such as databases that dynamically enable-or revoke- access to spectrum in particular times and places promise to change the way we think about spectrum.”

In pitching one of Commissioner Michael Copps’s ideas, the chairman added that the plan will include a recommendation to invest a sufficient amount into research and development to insure that the science behind spectrum access continues to advance.

In order to close the adoption gap, the plan proposes a creation of a Mobility Fund as part of broader Universal Service Reform.

Without increasing the size of the universal service fund, the plan will seek to provide one-time support for deployment of infrastructure enabling robust mobile broadband networks, to bring all states to a minimum level of mobile availability.

Finally, in order to improve mobile communications to first responders, the plan intends to develop the 700 MHz public safety broadband network to achieve interoperability. Genachowski assured that broadband plan will have a comprehensive public safety strategy of its own. The chairman mentioned that the goals of the plan will be achieved through public-private partnerships between public safety and commercial providers, including but not limited to 700MHz “D Block” commercial licensees. 


Throughout his statement, the chairman likened the National Broadband Plan to the Winter Olympics, where public servants spend months training and working, in an effort to win a gold medal for the United States by creating a plan to regain global leadership in broadband. He ended with the same comparison by saying that like the Olympics that only happen once every four years: “When you get your chance, you better make it count, because you don’t know when, or if, you’ll get another shot.”

CTIA – The Wireless Association President and CEO Steve Largent released a statement thanking Genachowski and his broadband team for their work on the National Broadband Plan and their recognition of the importance of wireless broadband.

“By proposing to free up 500 MHz of new spectrum for mobile broadband use, Chairman Genachowski has taken a tremendous step toward maintaining our worldwide mobile ecosystem leadership,” Largent said.

In his statement, the FCC chairman mentioned that “the costs of obtaining permits and leasing pole attachments and rights of way can amount to 20 percent of fiber deployment, which is necessary for wireless networks as well as wired networks. With our tower-sitting shot-clock order in November, the commission has already begun taking action to cut red tape, lower the costs of investment, and accelerate network deployments – but more needs to be done.”

Largent commended the chairman for his recognition of the importance of reducing such red tape and barriers to investment. He continued, “As we have said many times before, spectrum is our industry’s backbone that fuels the ‘virtuous cycle’ of innovation for consumers and other industries such as mHealth, smart grids, and mLearning.”

As Deputy Editor, Chris Naoum is curating expert opinions, and writing and editing articles on Broadband Breakfast issue areas. Chris served as Policy Counsel for Future of Music Coalition, Legal Research Fellow for the Benton Foundation and law clerk for a media company, and previously worked as a legal clerk in the office of Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. He received his B.A. from Emory University and his J.D. and M.A. in Television Radio and Film Policy from Syracuse University.

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TPRC Conference to Discuss Definition of Section 230, Broadband, Spectrum and China

Broadband Breakfast briefly breaks down the topics to be discussed at the TPRC conference.

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Photo collage of experts from TPRC

WASHINGTON, September 17, 2021 – The TPRC research conference on communication, information, and internet policy is right around the corner and it is set to address some of the most pressing issues facing Big Tech, the telecom industry, and society at large. We cover some topics you can expect to see covered during the conference on September 22 to 24.

If the recent election cycle and the Covid-19 pandemic have taught us anything, it is that the threat of misinformation and disinformation pose a greater threat than most people could have imagined. Many social media platforms have attempted to provide their own unique content moderation solutions to combat such efforts, but thus far, none of these attempts have satisfied consumers or legislators.

While the left criticizes these companies for not going far enough to curtail harmful speech, the right argues the opposite— that social media has gone too far and censored conservative voices.

All this dissent has landed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996—once a staple in the digital landscape—in the crosshairs of both Democrats and Republicans, as companies still scramble to strike a compromise to placate both sides of the aisle.

Definition of broadband

The future of broadband classifications is another topic that will also be touched on during the conference. This topic quickly became relevant at the outset of the pandemic, as people around the country began to attend school and work virtually.

It became immediately clear that for many Americans, our infrastructure was simply insufficient to handle such stresses. Suddenly, legislators were rushing to reclassify broadband. Efforts in Washington, championed primarily by Democrats, called for broadband standards to be raised.

The Federal Communications Commission’s standing definition of 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload appeared to become unpopular overnight, as calls for symmetrical service, like 100 x 100 Mbps speeds, and even gigabit speeds became a part of the conversation.

Many experts were quick to strike back, particularly those operating in the wireless community, arguing that the average consumer does not need 100 Mbps symmetrical speeds, let alone one gigabit, and such efforts only amounted to fearmongering that would hurt the deployment of broadband infrastructure to unserved communities.

These experts contend that shifting the standards would diminish the utility and viability of any technology other than fiber, as well as delaying when unserved communities (as they are currently defined) can expect to be served. Broader topics surrounding rural broadband and tech-equity will also be prominently featured—addressing many of the questions raised by Covid-19 across the last year and a half.

Future of spectrum

Finally, the quest for spectrum will be discussed at the conference.

As ubiquitous 5G technology continues to be promised by many companies in the near future, the hunt is on to secure more bandwidth to allow their devices and services to function. Of course, spectrum is a finite resource, so finding room is not always easy.

Indeed, spectrum sharing efforts have been underway for years, where incumbent users either incentivized or are compelled to make room for others in their band—just like we saw the military in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service band, and more recently between the Department of Defense and Ligado in the L band.

Even though these efforts are ongoing, there is still disagreement in the community about how, if at all, sharing spectrum will impact users in the band. While some argue that spectrum can be shared with little, if any, interference to incumbent services, others firmly reject this stance, maintaining that sharing bandwidth would be catastrophic to the services they provide.

On China

China is also going to be a significant topic at the conference. Due to the competitive nature of the U.S.-China relationship, many regard the race to 5G as a zero-sum game, whereby China’s success is our failure.

Furthermore, security and competition concerns have led the U.S. government to institute a “rip and replace” policy across the country, through which Chinese components—particularly those from companies such as Huawei—are torn out of existing infrastructure and substituted with components from the U.S. or countries we have closer economic ties with. The conference will feature several sessions discussing these topics and more.

Register for TPRC 2021

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Broadband Breakfast on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 — A ‘Consumer Confidence’ Survey for Broadband

BroadbandNow launches a “consumer confidence” survey.

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Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place every Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the September 15, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021, 12 Noon ET — BroadbandNow Presents a ‘Consumer Confidence’ Survey for Broadband

As part of its efforts to provide the latest research on the social, economic and political issues contributing to the digital impact and the impact of broadband on everyday life, BroadbandNow is launching a new survey among broadband leaders enthusiasts. Think of this as a “consumer confidence” survey for broadband.

Recently, there have been many changes regarding broadband at the federal, state, local and industry levels. BroadbandNow and Broadband Breakfast aim to launch the survey at a presentation during Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021, a mini-conference at the Broadband Community Summit in Houston, Texas, from September 27-30, 2021.

Join us on September 15, 2021, for this special Broadband Breakfast Live Online preview of the survey with John Busby, Managing Director of BroadbandNow, and Drew Clark, Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast.

Panelists for the event:

  • John Busby, Managing Director of BroadbandNow
  • John B. Horrigan, Senior Fellow, Benton Institute on Broadband & Society
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

  • John Busby is the Managing Director of BroadbandNow.com, where millions of consumers find and compare local internet options and independent research is published about the digital divide. Prior to BroadbandNow, John held senior leadership positions at Amazon and Marchex. John holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Northwestern University.
  • John B. Horrigan, Ph.D., is Senior Fellow at the Benton Institute on Broadband & Society, with a focus on technology adoption and digital inclusion. Horrigan has served as an Associate Director for Research at the Pew Research Center and Senior Fellow at the Technology Policy Institute. During the Obama Administration, Horrigan was part the leadership team at the Federal Communications Commission for the development of the National Broadband Plan (NBP).
  • Drew Clark, Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast, also serves as Of Counsel to The CommLaw Group. He has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers negotiate telecom leases and fiber IRUs, litigate to operate in the public right of way, and argue regulatory classifications before federal and state authorities. He has also worked with cities on structuring Public-Private Partnerships for better broadband access for their communities. As a journalist, Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband, and – building off his work with Broadband Census – was appointed Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois under Gov. Pat Quinn. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

BroadbandNow is a data aggregation company helping millions of consumers find and compare local internet options. BroadbandNow’s database of providers, the largest in the U.S., delivers the highest-value guides consisting of comprehensive plans, prices and ratings for thousands of internet service providers. BroadbandNow relentlessly collects and analyzes internet providers’ coverage and availability to provide the most accurate zip code search for consumers.

See also:

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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New Broadband Mapping Fabric Will Help Unify Geocoding Across the Broadband Industry, Experts Say

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Photo of Lynn Follansbee from October 2019 by Drew Clark

March 11, 2021 – The Federal Communications Commission’s new “fabric” for mapping broadband service across America will not only help collect more accurate data, but also unify geocoding across the broadband industry, industry experts said during a Federal Communications Bar Association webinar Thursday.

Broadband service providers are not geocoding experts, said Lynn Follansbee of US Telecom, and they don’t know where all the people are.

The new fabric dataset is going to be very useful to get a granular look at what is and what is not served and to harmonize geocoding, she said.

AT&T’s Mary Henze agreed. “We’re a broadband provider, we’re not a GIS company,” she said. Unified geocode across the whole field will help a lot to find missing spots in our service area, she said.

The new Digital Opportunity Data Collection fabric is a major shift from the current Form 477 data that the FCC collects, which has been notoriously inaccurate for years. The effort to improve broadband mapping has been ongoing for years, and in 2019 US Telecom in partnership with CostQuest and other industry partners created the fabric pilot program.

That has been instrumental in lead to the new FCC system, panelists said. It is called a “fabric” dataset because it is made up of other datasets that interlace like fabric, Follansbee explained.

The fabric brings new challenges, especially for mobile providers, said Chris Wieczorek of T-Mobile. With a whole new set of reporting criteria to fill out the fabric, it will lead to confusion for consumers, and lots of work for the new task force, he said.

Henze said that without the fabric, closing the digital divide between those with broadband internet and those without has been impossible.

Digital Opportunity Data Collection expected to help better map rural areas

The new mapping can help in rural areas where the current geolocation for a resident may be a mailbox that is several hundred feet or farther away from the actual house that needs service, Follansbee said.

Rural areas aren’t the only places that will benefit, though. It can also help in dense urban areas where vertical location in a residential building is important to getting a good connection, said Wieczorek.

The fabric will also help from a financial perspective, because of the large amount of funding going around, said Charter Communications’ Christine Sanquist. The improved mapping can help identify where best to spend that funding for federal agencies, providers, and local governments, she said.

There is now more than $10 billion in new federal funding for broadband-related projects, with the recent $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December 2020 and the new $7.6 Emergency Connectivity Fund part of the American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed into law Thursday.

The new FCC task force for implementing the new mapping system was created in February 2021, and is being led by , led by Jean Kiddoo at the FCC. No specific dates have been set yet for getting the system operational.

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