Powell and Adelstein Address FCC Spectrum Related Proceedings

May 25, 2004. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein gave a speech [3 pages in PDF] at an event titled "Wireless Internet Service Provider Forum" held at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, South Dakota. He gave a quick overview of the main FCC proceedings pertaining to use of spectrum for wireless internet service. FCC Chairman Michael Powell gave a speech [4 pages in PDF] at the FCC's Wireless Broadband Forum on May 19 at which he reviewed various FCC spectrum related proceedings.

Jonathan Adelstein

Adelstein (at right) said that "I am a big believer in the power of broadband. It is crucial to the economic development of our region. Broadband encourages the freedom of ideas, bridges distances, and brings people together. And at the FCC, our responsibility is to encourage broadband deployment across the country through new technologies, innovation, and investment."

"We need to find a balance in spectrum policy that recognizes the value in unlicensed and licensed services; large and small license areas; and different block sizes of spectrum", said Adelstein. He added that "We need to look at power levels and spectrum band plans and other ideas to see if there are opportunities to better enable carriers to expand their deployments and provide even more advanced services to rural America."

Powell said that "The great regulatory difficulty over the past one hundred years is because we have always had just one wire to the home. And because of that one wire you had enormous difficulties of monopoly control, bottleneck facilities, the pricing of those facilities, and how to get that one wire to every home in the Unites States."

"We have a historic opportunity here not to repeat that world." He added that there are already two broadband competitors, cable and DSL, but "the Holy Grail is when you get to three. Magical things happen in competitive markets when there are three."

Michael PowellPowell (at left) continued that "The FCC has recognized for years now that spectrum is vital to realizing this vision and that it had to have a bolder more enlightened national spectrum policy. From day one, we have been working hard to change the traditional ``command and control´´ approach that does not respect innovation and the need to move spectrum to its highest and best uses. We have been working hard to provide a spectrum policy that is much more facilitating of more platforms, more broadband platforms, more innovation, more choice and more flexibility."

He concluded, is that "our view is that more spectrum, more flexibility and more innovation will equal more broadband, and a brighter information landscape, and that’s the core of our policy."

Powell and Adelstein discussed several FCC proceedings, including those pertaining to secondary markets for spectrum, cognitive radios, use by unlicensed devices of TV spectrum, service rules for the 1710-1755 and 2110-2155 MHz bands, and rules for the 70, 80 & 90 GHz bands.

Secondary Markets for Spectrum. Adelstein stated that "We have to be more creative with a term I have coined ``spectrum facilitation.´´ That means stripping away barriers, regulatory or economic, to get spectrum into the hands of operators serving consumers at the most local levels. That is why I supported new guidelines to facilitate a more robust secondary market. We removed significant obstacles and provided a framework for allowing licensees to lease spectrum more easily."

Powell stated that "We have promoted the use of secondary markets for people that have more commercial flexibility in obtaining spectrum and allocating spectrum. Further, our spectrum leasing initiative will make spectrum more easily accessible to wireless operators interested in serving niche markets."

See, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [198 pages in PDF] in proceeding titled "In the Matter of Promoting Efficient Use of Spectrum Through Elimination of Barriers to the Development of Secondary Markets". This item is FCC 03-113 in WT Docket No. 00-230.

See also, story titled "FCC Adopts Order Allowing Some Secondary Leasing of Spectrum" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 663, May 16, 2003; and story titled "FCC Finally Releases R&O and FNPRM in Secondary Spectrum Markets Proceeding" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 755, October 8, 2003.

Cognitive Radios. Adelstein stated that "We also initiated a rulemaking on cognitive radios -- smart radios that can literally leapfrog the technical and legal problems that currently hamper many of today’s spectrum access opportunities. I was particularly pleased with our proposal in that item to allow higher power operation for unlicensed devices operating in rural and other areas of low spectrum use."

Powell stated that "We’re working very aggressively on new technologies like smart radio that will provide really new and creative technological solutions to spectrum scarcity and can open up more possibilities. We're working to open the door for these technologies so as not to shut out any of their tremendous potential."

See, Notice of Proposed Rule Making and Order [53 pages in PDF] in its proceeding titled "In the Matter of Facilitating Opportunities for Flexible, Efficient, and Reliable Spectrum Use Employing Cognitive Radio Technologies". This is FCC 03-322 in ET Docket No. 03-108. See also, story titled "FCC Releases Cognitive Radio Technology NPRM" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 808, December 31, 2003.

Unused TV Spectrum. Adelstein stated that "I have worked with the Chairman to identify new spectrum for unlicensed wireless ISPs. And now we're even thinking about allowing operations in unused television spectrum bands."

See, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [38 pages in PDF] in the proceeding is titled "In the Matter of Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands Additional Spectrum for Unlicensed Devices Below 900 MHz and in the 3 GHz Band". This NPRM is FCC 04-113 in ET Docket Nos. 04-186 and No. 02-380. See also, story titled "FCC Adopts NPRM Regarding Unlicensed Use of Broadcast TV Spectrum" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 898, May 14, 2004; and story titled "FCC Releases NPRM Regarding Unlicensed Use of TV Spectrum" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 905, May 26, 2004.

Service Rules for the 1710-1755 and 2110-2155 MHz Bands. Adelstein stated that "the FCC continues to take steps to speed deployment of licensed wireless broadband services. We recently adopted service and technical rules for 90 MHz of new spectrum, which many expect will be the future home for third generation or 3G mobile wireless systems. In that proceeding, I pushed for an extra group of smaller license areas to make it easier for companies in South Dakota and other rural states to get licenses that cover their local markets. So instead of there being only six licenses for the entire country for one of the blocks of spectrum, there are now three licenses for South Dakota alone -- for Rapid City, Aberdeen, and Sioux Falls. This should greatly improve access by those providers who want to serve local areas, particularly community-based providers."

Powell stated that "Just last year the Commission allocated an additional ninety megahertz of spectrum that can be used for advanced wireless services. The flexible rules for this band were established in October and we hope to auction the spectrum by sometime next year."

See, Report and Order [83 pages in PDF] in the proceeding titled "In the Matter of Service Rules for Advanced Wireless Services in the 1.7 GHz and 2.1 GHz Bands". This item is FCC 03-251, in WT Docket No. 02-353. See also, story titled "FCC Announces Service Rules for 3G Spectrum" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 761, October 20, 2003.

70, 80 & 90 GHz Bands. Adelstein said that "last year, I pushed for special rules for the spectrum in the 70/80/90 GHz range that can provide for fiber-like first and last mile connections. Because of the unique characteristics of this spectrum, we decided not to auction it, which will make it a whole lot easier for licensees, particularly those in rural America, to get access to the spectrum."

Powell stated that the FCC "has established an innovative framework for allowing commercial use of spectrum in those bands. These bands have been opened up to allow for the use of more innovative technologies that will lead to new products and services being available, such as high-speed, point-to-point wireless LANS and offerings that will increase broadband services."

See, Report and Order [66 pages in PDF] in proceeding titled "In the Matter of Allocations and Service Rules for the 71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz and 92-95 GHz Bands". This item is FCC 03-248, in WT Docket No. 02-146. See also, story titled "FCC Announces Rules for Licensing 71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz, and 92-95 GHz Bands" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 761, October 20, 2003.