With Chairman Genachowski’s regime now firmly in place, the Broadband Planning Team headed by Blair Levin is moving at a furious pace to gather the information needed to develop a broadband strategy for the United States. To its credit, the Levin team appears to be taking the task seriously as a real blueprint for action: not just another report to be sent up to Capitol Hill to gather dust on a shelf, but rather a master plan that will guide this country’s transition into the new broadband age. To that end, the Commission has been holding workshops, issuing Notices of Inquiry, and generally calling for all the information and ideas it can get its hands on from all segments of the industry. All of this is being done on an expedited basis unusual for FCC proceedings which underscores both the importance of the issues being considered and the early 2010 timetable for having a finished product. Everything seems to be open for discussion, including some of the most sacred cows in the regulatory pasture.
As we have previously reported, comments on the Notice of Inquiry on Innovation and Investment in Wireless Communications are due no later than September 30. A companion notice was issued this week in light of the comments already received in the larger National Broadband Plan NOI. Those comments suggested very forcefully that the spectrum needed to deliver high quality 4G broadband is just not available. Since, like beachfront property, they’re not making any more spectrum, the Commission needs to come up with a way to free up spectrum from Federal sources, re-farm spectrum currently allocated to non-broadband uses, or require more effective use of existing spectrum by incumbent licensees. Most of these alternatives send a shiver down the spine of incumbents, but folks looking to get their hands on spectrum can take hope.
Interested parties can and should file comments in response to the September 23 companion notice no later than October 23, 2009 in this latest Public Notice since it has far-reaching implications for many industry players. Reply comments may also be filed until November 13.