The FCC today published what amounts to a framework for the final phase in the development of a National Broadband Plan. The framework provides options for everything from universal service to infrastructure and dealing with the complexities of rolling out broadband across tribal lands.
Blair Levin, former chief of staff for FCC Chairman Reed Hundt and the man appointed to lead the broadband effort, held a press conference via conference call.
As journalists pressed for more specific details on the plan, Levin reiterated that while the FCC hopes to have an official National Broadband Plan completed by mid-February, that does not mean that all the answers need to be answered beforehand.
When asked for a timeline as to when new spectrum would be available for auction, Levin was cautious, saying that the commission’s declaration of a “looming spectrum crisis” meant different things on different scales and would be resolved with that in mind.
“When we say that there is a looming spectrum crisis … whereas for individual companies it will come at different times, but for mobile broadband, where order of magnitude is kind of, it’s roughly speaking in the middle of the decade, but in order to have the spectrum to head that off, you have to have auctioned it off a few years ahead of that, so if you’re working backwards, sometime in a year or so, there should be a plan.”
Levin added that a bill currently being considered in the House (H.R. 3125) authorizing a spectrum inventory would be nice but not necessary. “Obviously, we agree with the concept, but I don’t think we need a bill… it’s not a necessity,” Levin said.
While Levin was vague on a timeline for the availability of additional spectrum, he admitted the importance of making it available to wireless carriers. “If we don’t get more spectrum to wireless carriers, the level at which they will be able to compete with wireline broadband are diminished. It’s just that simple.”
Levin denied claims that the FCC has scaled back some of its initial ambitions in light of opposition from major telecom and wireless players. He said that the FCC has a “simultaneously visionary and pragmatic” approach to national broadband policy.
When pushed on whether the FCC has bent to the whims of larger commercial entities by rejecting certain proposals, Levin was indignant.
“As one who has been openly criticized for actually being too open and transparent, I find it ironic that you’re saying that we’re, you know, not open to proposals. I think, it’s not like we’ve been shying away from big players who don’t like what we’re saying, it’s that we’re trying to come up with pragmatic ways to solve the problems that Congress asked us to solve,” Levin said.
Filed Under: Industry regulations