Posted by: Bob Quinn on May 6, 2013 at 10:15 am
Every three months or so, the FCC’s 700 MHz Interoperability Docket finds its way into the Washington media. Given the recent announcement of both new and interim FCC Chairpersons and their coming agendas, I expect the issue to continue to get coverage, so let’s recap the issue and status in that proceeding.
When the FCC created the lower 700 MHz Band Plan, it placed mobile broadband A, B and C Block spectrum adjacent to spectrum used for broadcast television, most significantly, Channel 51 stations. This created substantial interference issues (as well as build out issues due to exclusion zones created around Channel 51 license areas), particularly for A Block license holders, due to the presence of high powered broadcast signals in nearby spectrum.
At auction, markets being what they are, those disadvantages impacted the value of the A Block spectrum, which was sold at a significant discount to other available spectrum. While many regional and smaller competitors purchased A Block licenses, AT&T avoided the A Block and instead purchased licenses at auction and in the secondary market in the B and C bands. Almost immediately after the auction ended, however, the purchasers of the A Block licenses began arguing that any handset used by AT&T to receive B or C Block signals should also be capable of operating on the A Block as well, making all of the spectrum bands “interoperable” – thus the name for our proceeding. Those carriers asserted that handset manufacturers would never make devices just for them, and that the only way they would be able to obtain the latest and greatest technology would be if they could piggy-back on AT&T’s supposedly greater purchasing power.
Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on May 1, 2013 at 2:42 pm
President Barack Obama today announced the nomination of Tom Wheeler as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The following statement may be attributed to AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President, Jim Cicconi:
I’ve known Tom Wheeler for many years, and he is an inspired pick to lead the FCC. Mr. Wheeler’s combination of high intelligence, broad experience, and in-depth knowledge of the industry may, in fact, make him one of the most qualified people ever named to run the agency.
Mr. Wheeler will face daunting challenges at the FCC. Already the pace of technological change is clashing with outdated laws, antiquated rules, and approaches more rooted in the past than the present. The dedicated career staff at the FCC are grappling with these challenges now. If the pace of change is to continue, along with the investment and job creation that fuel it, the mission of the FCC in the 21st Century must be re-examined, and its rules and methods modernized. In this situation, I can think of no nominee more talented or whose leadership skills are more needed. Moreover, Mr. Wheeler will be joining a complement of fellow commissioners who are equally formidable and well suited for this important moment in the FCC’s history.
On behalf of AT&T, I’d like to congratulate Tom Wheeler on his nomination. We look forward to working with him once he is confirmed by the Senate. I also want to congratulate Mignon Clyburn, who will take over as interim-chair of the FCC. She’s an experienced and independent policymaker, passionate about public service, who will lead the agency over the coming months with a steady hand.
Posted by: Hank Hultquist on April 29, 2013 at 2:34 pm
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Lao-Tzu, The Way of Lao Tzu
Over the last few years, discussion of the FCC’s role in IP interconnection has generated lots of heat, a little light, and virtually no progress. On April 18th, the FCC took matters into its own hands and began the transition to all-IP interconnection with not one, but two steps. First, the FCC began a process to authorize IP-based providers to obtain telephone numbers directly from the numbering administrator. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the FCC sought comment on database and routing issues that must be resolved in order to enable the transition to all-IP interconnection.
It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of these database and routing issues. Numbering databases may seem like the driest of telecom issues, but they are the key to enabling this transition. The existing databases, principally the Local Exchange Routing Guide (LERG) and Number Portability Administrative Center (NPAC), lie at the heart of the existing system of TDM interconnection for local and long distance telephone calls. Virtually every telephone call between customers of different service providers is interconnected on the basis of information from these databases. In order to move to IP interconnection, there must be a database that associates IP routing information with telephone numbers.
Once service providers begin to populate IP routing information into the NPAC or some similar database, the momentum for all-IP interconnection will gather into an irresistible wave of innovation and progress. Unlike TDM interconnection, which enables only a homogenized service with a limited and strictly defined set of features, IP interconnection will open the door to higher quality (like HD audio), new capabilities (like video), and a host of new features that will enable consumers to control which modes of communications they will engage in at particular times with particular parties.