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Spectrum

Rosenworcel Proposes Funding Infrastructure and 911 Transition with Spectrum Auction Money

The FCC’s chairwoman spoke on the future of spectrum during a Tuesday CTIA event on 5G’s climate impacts.

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Photo of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel by T.J. York

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2022 – Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on Tuesday proposed using funds raised in upcoming spectrum auctions held by the commission to fund infrastructure projects and the transition to a next-generation 911 system.

The proposal came as part of a list of potential future areas of focus on spectrum from the commission during Rosenworcel’s session at wireless trade association CTIA’s 2022 5G Summit focusing on 5G’s impacts on climate.

Rosenworcel has stated in the past that she would like spectrum auction proceeds to go towards updating the national 911 system.

Proposed upgrades include allowing 911 callers to send first responders photos, videos and text messages rather than just calls. A bill also exists in Congress to upgrade 911, the Next-Generation 911 Act, authorizing federal grants to go towards the upgrades.

In March the FCC announced that in July it would auction 2.5 GHz band licenses for 5G services.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., also speaking at Tuesday’s event, added to the calls for upgrades to the national 911 system.

Rosenworcel also spoke about the possibility of legislation targeting mid-band spectrum and development of next-gen wireless networks, work on updates to the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act that governs allocation of spectrum to the commercial sector, as well as a greater focus on receiver performance and procurement practices rather than just examining transmitters.

She emphasized that the commission is always actively working on spectrum policy through the Affordable Connectivity Program, the freeing up of spectrum with a particular focus on mid band, advocating for a national spectrum plan, and broadband data collection via the provisions of the Broadband DATA Act. She stated that the commission is actively involved with National Telecommunications and Information Administration head Alan Davidson on freeing up spectrum.

Additional speakers at Tuesday’s event included director of the White House’s National Economic Council Brian Deese, who noted that in the coming weeks and months there will be many more announcements on broadband funding from the administration on money to come from new and existing sources, and Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky.

Guthrie voiced frustration with government agencies not designated authority on spectrum over the role they took in public debates on spectrum policy, largely related to the Federal Aviation Administration’s influence over cellular providers to make concessions on their rollout of 5G over safety concerns earlier this year.

“And we must always continue to address inter-agency coordination issues,” said Guthrie.

He stated the necessity of these agencies communicating concerns to the NTIA and FCC rather than directly involving themselves in policy discussions.

Reporter T.J. York received his degree in political science from the University of Southern California. He has experience working for elected officials and in campaign research. He is interested in the effects of politics in the tech sector.

Spectrum

In a Move to Aid Spectrum Efficiency, FCC Begins Inquiry on Receiver Interference Standards

The FCC makes advancements towards more efficient spectrum use throughout the country.

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Photo of Public Knowledge Policy Counsel Kathleen Burke from the advocacy group

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2022 — The Federal Communication Commission on Thursday voted to press forward on a proceeding designed to make spectrum transmissions in the United States much more efficient.

“By enabling more efficient use will facilitate the introduction of new and innovative wireless services that will benefit the American public,” said Paul Murray, associate chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology at the FCC, who introduced an inquiry titled, “Promoting Efficient Use of Spectrum through Improved Receiver Interference Immunity Performance.”

Receiver interference immunity performance refers to the ability of a radiofrequency receiver (as opposed to a transmitter) to reject interference. Typically, the agency focuses its rules on the transmitter side of radio systems.

But, the FCC said, “receivers and receiver interference immunity performance play an increasingly critical role in enabling more efficient spectrum use,” age agency noted in its fact sheet circulated prior to the meeting.

In it, the FCC highlighted how, increasingly, “the receiver interference immunity performance associated with incumbent services operating in spectral proximity to new users or services has been a major consideration.”

For example, the ability of incumbent service receivers to reject signals outside their intended band has been relevant to the timing and scope of the introduction of new services, such as the Ligado and the 3.7 GigaHertz (GHz) band proceedings, the agency noted. There, the FCC adopted operating conditions and rules to enable the introduction of new operations into frequency bands with various incumbent users operating under different service allocations in the same band, adjacent band, or other spectrally proximate frequency bands.

“If our telecommunications system is going to meet the modern needs of our nation, every aspect needs to operate efficiently,” said Kathleen Burke, policy counsel at Public Knowledge. She endorsed the agency’s beginning the proceeding.

Emergency alerts strengthened

During the meeting the commission also approved for the public to comment on proposals that will strengthen wireless emergency alerts. “This pandemic has made crystal clear how important it is to have good data in an emergency.   Accurate information is essential if we want to know what we need to do next.  That is also true with Wireless Emergency Alerts.  If we want to know where to go with this system next, we need to better understand it. That is why today we seek comments on how we can develop better data about the effectiveness of Wireless Emergency Alerts,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

Rosenworcel also that Chief of Staff Travis Litman will be leaving the office and will be replaced by Narda Jones.

“We also welcome the uncommonly talented Narda Jones to the agency. She’s my new chief of staff,” Rosenworcel said. She comes to us from the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House.”

The FCC’s next Open Commission Meeting will be held on May 19.

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Spectrum

FCC Will Auction Slices of Mid-Band 2.5 GHz Spectrum for 5G in Late July

The slices of 2.5 GHz mid-band will be licenses for flexible use, including for 5G.

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Photo of Jessica Rosenworcel
Photo of Jessica Rosenworcel in 2018

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2022 — The Federal Communications Commission announced Monday it will hold an auction of 2.5 GHz band licenses for 5G wireless services on July 29, 2022.

The FCC said in a press release it has adopted application and bidding procedures for a slice of the band, which will be licensed on a flexible-use basis following “substantial public comment on various process proposals under consideration.”

During her speech to Mobile World Congress, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said, “this is the single largest swath of contiguous mid-band spectrum we have below 3 gigahertz and the airwaves available in this auction are going to help extend 5G service beyond our most populated areas.”

In the same announcement, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Office of Economics and Analytics announced the launch of a mapping tool that can be used to help assess whether and to what extent there is unassigned 2.5 GHz spectrum available in any county nationwide.

The FCC is simultaneously working on improving mapping to determine areas without adequate coverage. Expert witnesses discussed the lack of accurate broadband maps and the importance of crowdsourcing for accurate maps during a congressional hearing about 5G and the future in wireless technologies on Thursday.

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Spectrum

‘Airwaves for Equity’ Initiative Wants Spectrum Auction Proceeds for Digital Equity

The initiative would dedicate proceeds from future spectrum auctions.

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Photo of Michael Calabrese speaking at the Aspen Institute event

WASHINGTON, February 28, 2022 – A new spectrum alliance wants the Federal Communications Commission to allocate spectrum proceeds to expand digital equity.

The newly established Airwaves for Equity initiative proposed at its launch event Wednesday that Congress renew the FCC’s authority to auction public spectrum and designate proceeds to endow a digital equity foundation, which would make annual investments in digital literacy, devices, and training to close digital equity gaps. The FCC’s authority to do so expires this year.

“If people don’t know how to use technology, don’t have the skills, or cannot tap into the value of broadband and internet for basic needs, our efforts to connect them are fruitless,” said Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project. Calabrese said closing the digital divide will involve all the “three A’s” – access, affordability, and adoption––to ensure digital equity for all citizens.

Calabrese said the public airwaves, like other natural resources such as land, should be divided in a way that promotes equity amongst its users. “This public resource is owned by all of us, the American people,” Calabrese said, noting that use of the public airwaves has generated over $200 billion since the 1990s. The AFE wishes to direct that revenue toward funding a digital equity foundation.

As the federal government prepares to distribute $65 billion – and $2.75 billion for the Digital Equity Act – to close the digital divide from the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, the AFE said greater funding must be made available to address digital literacy and inclusion. Although the funds are projected to address access and affordability, AFE said the IIJA “does relatively little” to address digital literacy.

The AFE is made up of members including advocacy group Public Knowledge, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, the Schools Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition, Common Sense Media, the Center for Rural Strategies, and the Open Technology Institute at New America.

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