What’s Hot List: 6/3/16

FCC seeks comment on spectrum sharing techniques in the 5.9 GHz band (Fierce Wireless 6/1)

In an issue that drew bipartisan support, the FCC released its public notice inviting parties to update and refresh the record when it comes to proposed sharing solutions between Wi-Fi and Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) operations in the 5.9 GHz band.

The notice comes after the auto industry last month urged President Barack Obama to ignore the recommendations that tech companies recently made about opening up the 5.9 GHz band for Wi-Fi. The auto industry wants to stick with a previous plan for DSRC that it says will lead to safer roads.

FCC Commissioner Highlights Ongoing Fraud in Lifeline Program (Inside Sources 6/1)

A Federal Communications Commissioner highlighted ongoing fraud in the agency’s low-income phone subsidy program in a letter late Tuesday, months after the agency voted to expand the program’s spending and reach.

In a letter to the CEO of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) — the organization charged with administering the program — FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai highlighted ongoing potential fraud by wireless providers when enrolling subscribers in Lifeline, which grants low-income Americans a $9.25 monthly subsidy to help pay for phone and broadband service.

FCC’s set-top box proposal is bad policy and would harm small operators (The Hill 6/1)

When it comes to TV and video, consumers have more choices of providers, packages and devices than ever before – and innovations are continuously evolving.  Yet despite this vibrant marketplace, the Federal Communications Commission has proposed new set-top box rules that are unnecessary to spur competition, and would result in unintended consequences.  The FCC’s proposal is a solution in search of a problem – and it must be stopped.

FCC Member Pai Says He Voted Against Globalstar Proposal (Bloomberg 6/2)

Ajit Pai, a member of the Federal Communications Commission, said he voted against a proposal to let Globalstar Inc. make heavier use of its airwaves.

Pai said in an e-mailed statement that adopting Democratic FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal would “give a particular company special rights.” Pai is a member of the agency’s Republican minority, which has lost a series of 3-2 votes led by Wheeler.

Votes from the other FCC commissioners weren’t announced, and Kim Hart, a commission spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to queries.

Privacy Paternalism at the FCC (Forbes 6/1)

About two months ago, the FCC proposed a rule that singles out Broadband Internet Access Service (BIAS) providers as the target of new, and seemingly arbitrary limits on their ability to collect and use the data that flow over their networks.  The comment period closed this past Friday (view mine here), so as summer begins, it may be a good time to reflect on why the FCC’s proposal is misguided, and how it could be saved. Appealing to the old axiom, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” there’s no reason for the FCC to abandon the FTC’s harm-based approach, which served consumers well since the inception of broadband Internet.

ACLU: FCC Needs Strong Broadband Privacy Rules (Multichannel News 5/31)

The American Civil Liberties Union is all for the FCC’s proposal to apply new rules to broadband privacy.


In comments on the FCC’s proposal, the ACLU associated itself with comments of the Consumer Federation of America and 17 other organizations, but said it wanted to file separate comments to emphasize several points. That included emphasizing that they think ISPs are the privacy threats and should be treated differently from edge providers.

ACA: FCC Should Follow FTC Privacy Lead (Broadcasting & Cable 6/1)

Among those singing the praises of a harmonized broadband privacy regime is the American Cable Association, though if the FCC does not follow along, it wants the commission to exempt its members from many of the requirements and give them extra time to comply with whatever the FCC does.

The FCC, having inherited broadband customer privacy oversight from the Federal Trade Commission when it reclassified ISPs as common carriers, has proposed new bright-line rules that would require ISPs to get permission from their subs before sharing information with third parties.

Bidding starts in FCC’s wireless airwave auction (The Hill 5/31)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) started its historic wireless spectrum auction on Tuesday with the first bids.

At 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the agency began buying spectrum, the invisible radio frequencies accessed by mobile devices, from television stations.

It’s only the first step in the never-before-attempted auction. The commission will buy airwaves from television stations and then sell them back, in a repackaged form, to wireless providers. The success of the second part of the auction depends on whether the FCC is able to get broadcasters to give up enough of their spectrum licenses.

AT&T CEO Says He Can’t Deploy Robocall Blockers Without FCC Approval. He’s Wrong (Consumerist 6/1)

On his personal phone line, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson blocks unwanted, pre-recorded and auto-dialed robocalls. So why is Darth Randy not making this technology available for all of his customers? He claims it’s because he needs the FCC’s permission to do so, but the FCC says that just isn’t so. Last week, in a surprisingly candid interview with the Dallas Morning News’ Dave Lieber, Stephenson admitted that he hates robocalls just as much as the rest of us.

Factually Challenged Op-ed Insists Google Greed Is Behind FCC’s Desire For More Set Top Box Competition (TechDirt 6/1)

We’ve noted how the FCC recently voted to bring some much-needed competition to the cable set top box market. Thanks to limited competition consumers still pay $231 annually for what’s often garbage hardware — hardware used to lock consumers inside the increasingly out-dated cable walled garden. As a fact sheet circulated by the agency (pdf) makes clear, the effort will simply involve cable companies delivering their content to third-party hardware using any generally accepted technology and the copy protection of their choice.

If Washington Wants To ‘Get’ You, It Now Can–How Uncle Sam Became Uncle Tyrant (Forbes 6/1)

OUR FOUNDING FATHERS understood that tyranny wasn’t likely to come from a foreign invasion but from the step-by-step erosion of our freedoms by an expanding government. This is what we are facing today. Most people have no conception of the slippery slope we’re on.