Citing the extended timeline for approval of commercial LTE-U, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Wednesday the Commission going forward will aim to speed approval of new technologies through enforcement of Section 7 of the Communications Act.
As noted by Pai, Section 7 gives the Commission one year to make a decision on whether any new proposed technology or service is in the public interest. But Pai said the FCC has been derelict in enforcing its duty with regard to that provision.
“Unfortunately, the FCC hasn’t enforced Section 7,” Pai said in a speech given at Carnegie Mellon University. “When someone proposes a new technology or service, we don’t make a concerted effort to say yes or no within a year. Indeed, the FCC rarely mentions Section 7, let alone abides by it. But that changes now.”
Starting Wednesday, Pai said he was directing agency staff to comply with Section 7’s timeline, though he noted that wouldn’t necessarily mean the FCC’s answer on new ideas would be a green light. Additionally, Pai stressed that a Section 7 petitioner’s application must be for a technology or service that’s actually new to qualify for the fast track treatment.
Pai laid out the benefits of strong enforcement of Section 7 in a scenario related to the FCC’s ongoing spectrum efforts.
“Here’s one example of how the Section 7 process could work. As part of our so-called ‘Spectrum Frontiers’ proceeding, we asked questions about allowing novel wireless uses and technologies in frequencies above 95 GHz. Those frequencies haven’t traditionally been used for mobile wireless technologies. But I believe that, instead of having regulators decide which frequencies are useful, we should put spectrum out there as a testbed and leave it to the innovators to figure out how to use it,” Pai explained. “Applications for experimentation above the 95 GHz band could qualify for Section 7 treatment. And this determination, in turn, could accelerate the deployment of cutting-edge wireless services and other innovations.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations