Wednesday, February 9, 2005

FCC Seeks Faster Rollout of Wireless Broadband

The FCC's Wireless Broadband Access Task Force issued a list of recommendations that the FCC could adopt to speed the deployment of wireless broadband services to consumers across America. These recommendations include:

  • Promote voluntary frequency coordination efforts by private industry for license-exempt spectrum -- such as those already successfully underway in some of the more congested parts of the country -- to mitigate potential interference among users.

  • Promote voluntary industry best practices among unlicensed users to maximize the potential opportunities for spectrum use.

  • Facilitate reporting of violations of technical rules for license-exempt spectrum (e.g., improper power boosting and jamming) to ensure level playing field and minimize impermissible interference.

  • Expedite the transition of the digital television (DTV) spectrum for advanced wireless services and public safety, given that the spectrum in the 700 MHz band is ideal for mobile broadband applications. In the meantime, the Task Force also recommends that the Commission consider additional mechanisms for allowing 700 MHz channels to be used for wireless broadband services before the completion of the DTV transition.

  • Ensure that FCC rules are flexible enough to allow providers to pair spectrum asymmetrically to account for the unbalanced nature of broadband services, which typically requires a large amount of bandwidth for downstream communications, and less bandwidth for upload links. For mobile services, the Commission has traditionally paired two licenses of equal size, one for upstream and one for downstream communications.

  • Apply a pro-competitive, innovative national framework for wireless broadband services -- one that imposes the fewest regulatory barriers at both the federal and state level -- to wireless broadband services. Such an approach would enable the greatest innovations, in terms of technologies and types of services, and would maximize consumer benefits. The Task Force recommended that the Commission consider several options for achieving this goal, including classifying wireless broadband either as an "information service" or an "interstate" service, or clarifying the scope of the deregulatory principles applied to Commercial Mobile Radio Services (CMRS) -- which enabled the rapid success of mobile voice and data services over the last decade.

  • Continue to take a pro-active, forward looking approach to regulation as wireless broadband networks begin to be used in combination with other broadband service networks and services (e.g., regularly evaluate whether it is time to remove outdated rules, and accord an increasingly flexible regulatory environment for service providers to facilitate convergence).

  • Build upon and improve specific existing FCC outreach efforts (e.g., relationships with federal agencies and state & local governmental organizations).


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