Connect with us

Congress

Brookings Panel Debates Wireless Spectrum Policy, AT&T-T-Mobile Deal

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2011 – The Brookings Institution assembled leading telecommunications experts and business representatives on Wednesday to discuss the future of spectrum policy and the impending merger between AT&T and T-Mobile.

Published

on

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2011 – The Brookings Institution assembled leading telecommunications experts and business representatives on Wednesday to discuss the future of spectrum policy and the impending merger between AT&T and T-Mobile.

“Mobile broadband is exploding in demand,” said James Cicconi, Senior Executive Vice President-External and Legislative Affairs at AT&T at the start the discussion. “By 2015 we expect our network to carry 19 billion exabytes of data which is equivalent to 400 quadrillion DVDs annually.”

Cicconi proceeded to explain why AT&T views the merger between it and T-Mobile a necessity to solve the spectrum crisis. He stated that T-Mobile currently lacks the necessary spectrum licenses to create a 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network and its parent company Deutsche Telekom does not have the capital necessary to buy more licenses.

“We already carry more wireless data than any other company,” Cicconi said. “When we acquire the additional spectrum owned by T-Mobile we will be able to expand our 4G network to cover 95 percent of the population.”

Former Broadband Plan Executive Director, Blair Levin, called access 4G “critical” and said that mobile broadband is vital to future economic growth.

Levin went onto say that a spectrum crunch will occur if broadcasters do not sell off some of their holdings, but he opposed taking spectrum away from the owners without proper compensation.

“The best way to reallocate spectrum is with voluntary incentive auctions,” Levin said, “but if the current owners are not able to profit from the auction no one will participate.”

Currently all proceeds from any spectrum auction or sale go directly to the Treasury Department rather than the previous owners. Levin called on Congress to change the law.

While he would not explicitly comment on the merger Levin did say that “competition drives spectrum efficiency” and when companies must work within their existing allotment they create innovative new technologies to meet their demand requirements. However, he then went on to say that there needs to be enough available spectrum to allow for competition to occur.

Richard Whitt, Senior Policy Director at Google, expounded on the need for a comprehensive spectrum inventory: “We need to know exactly who owns what and what it’s being used for.”

Whitt echoed Levin’s call for voluntary spectrum auctions, but said that in addition to releasing additional spectrum to mobile broadband providers, the Federal Communication Commissions should also set aside spectrum for unlicensed uses.

Unlicensed bands are crucial for innovation since any user can run a device on the band without having to purchase an expensive license. Cicconi, agreed with Whitt’s assessment of the unlicensed bands citing Wi-Fi as the best example of the use of the unlicensed band.

Whitt also called on government agencies to release spectrum that it currently holds but is not using.

 

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for BroadbandBreakfast.com since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

Congress

House Democrats Fight Against Anti-Crypto Measures in Senate-Passed Infrastructure Bill

Published

on

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.

August 20, 2021 – Pro-crypto House Democrats pushed back against the Senate Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s inclusion of crypto regulatory language, seeking to make it less broad.

The additions of cryptocurrency taxes aim to generate revenue to pay for part of the infrastructure spending. Its authors intended to reduce fraud in reports to the IRS.

Democratic California Reps. Ro Khanna, Eric Swalwell, and Anna Eshoo joined cryptocurrency enthusiasts Rep. Bill Foster, D-Illinois, and Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., in urging to amend the infrastructure bill in the House.

In a letter released on August 12, Eshoo advocated to Pelosi that the House should “amend the problematic broker definition,” describing the existing language as “imposing unworkable regulations.”

But there is some feeling that amendments to the bill in the House may not be necessary. According to a Treasury Department official, the agency plans to clarify its definition of a “broker” to be more specific.

Any amendments to the House would force the infrastructure measure back to the Senate.

Continue Reading

Digital Inclusion

Senators Reintroduce Bipartisan Digital Equity Act

Sen. Murray re-introduces bi-partisan that would provide grants to states pushing for digital equity.

Published

on

Patty Murray, D-Washington

June 14, 2021– Three Senators have introduced legislation that would provide grants to states that create digital equity plans.

The proposed legislation, reintroduced on Thursday by Patty Murray, D-Washington, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Angus King, I-Maine, would set-aside $60 million to establish a State Digital Equity Capacity Grant within the Department of Commerce that would “promote the achievement of digital equity, support digital inclusion activities, and build capacity for efforts by States relating to the adoption of broadband by residents of those States.”

The funds from the Digital Equity Act in the Senate would be made available to all states, foundations, corporations, institutions, or agencies. The bill was first introduced by Murray in 2019.

Each state will receive a different grant amount depending on a formula that includes population and access to broadband across the state, to be spent within 5 years of receipt.

In addition to funding for states, the bill creates a  $125-million Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program. This program is also for state agencies and institutions but is more specifically geared toward those that are responsible for “adult education and literacy activities.”

Infrastructure portion

A final pillar of the bill is to create more infrastructure and resources for future development of policies that will continue to promote a bridging of the digital divide.

During a press conference on the bill, Murray told the Broadband Breakfast that she believes the bill will be successful because it gives states and local communities the ability to decide what their needs are. “We cannot dictate that in D.C.,” she remarked.

When asked why the bill will create more permanent solutions, she stated that it, “Provides for the diversity of needs that are going to continue to be out there.”

The senators co-sponsoring the bill said they are confident it will make its way into any infrastructure legislation passed by Congress.

Continue Reading

Infrastructure

Senate Committee Hears High Symmetrical Internet Speeds, Up-To-Date Technologies For Future Of Rural America

NTCA’s Shirley Bloomfield on driving improvements for rural broadband.

Published

on

Shirley Bloomfield

May 19, 2021– The head of the NTCA — Rural Broadband Association told a Senate Finance Committee that there are a number of improvements that can be made to broadband services and infrastructure for rural Americans, including higher symmetrical internet speeds, up-to-date network technologies, and better coordination of government funding to avoid overbuilding.

Shirley Bloomfield provided six different types of actions at Tuesday’s hearing that the government should take to improve broadband coverage in rural markets.

Bloomfield’s first suggestion was to build networks to last. She argued that building networks that provide insufficient speeds or utilize technology that is already outdated will not be sufficient to address the broadband needs of the future generation. During her testimony, Bloomfield specifically voiced support for 100 Mbps symmetrical service.

“We have a once in a generation opportunity—on the investment side—to do this right—to aim higher and to do better,” she said.

Her second suggestion was to take steps to limit overbuilding. To do this, she suggested that state and local governments coordinate with existing programs that provide mapping and funding for broadband projects. She clarified during her testimony that those without broadband service need to be prioritized before those with insufficient broadband service. She argued that the best way to do this would be ensuring that there is coordination with federal and state regulatory bodies with access to mapping data.

Bloomfield’s third suggestion was that network maintenance must be prioritized, and that modern networks will only stay modern and efficient if they are kept working and up to date.

Bloomfield also recommended clearer standards for broadband providers and that un(der)served rural communities should not be treated as “test labs” for new technologies. She stated that technologies should not be deployed until they have been sufficiently tested and established as viable strategies to serve communities in need of broadband. This includes not just the current needs of the communities in question, but also the projected needs of future generations.

Her sixth recommendation was to encourage consumers to look for local ISPs to provide broadband service. She noted that these smaller, local ISPs have cultivated relationships with the communities they serve, and those who work for the ISP often live among those they serve. She stated that it is this intimate connection that has allowed them to navigate the unique issues that these rural communities face.

Finally, Bloomfield encouraged the Committee to push for lower barriers to entry for broadband expansion projects, stating that bureaucracy and costs associated with many projects are simply too high. She also stated that a concerted effort must be made to sure-up supply chain issues that are currently applying significant pressure to ISPs and hampering expansion.

Continue Reading

Recent

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field

Trending