I find myself in complete agreement with the wireless industry on supporting The Radio Spectrum Inventory Act. This Bill, sponsored by John Kerry (D-MA), Chair of The Subcommittee on Communications of the Senate commerce Committee, and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), requires NTIA and the FCC to account for every MHz of spectrum between 300 MHz and 3.5 GHz within 180 days of the bill’s passage. You can see Kerry’s statement here, and Snowe’s statement in here.
“Same bed, different dreams” was the title of a book by David Lampton on Sino-US relations, and comes from a Chinese expression describing people whose lives are fundamentally intertwined but who do not fundamentally communicate with each other. That pretty much sums up supporters of more licensed spectrum and supporters of more unlicensed spectrum, both of whom very much back this bill. Kerry caught this duality nicely by saluting both the 700 MHz auction and the opening of the broadcast white spaces as demonstrating the value of spectrum access and the need for the inventory.
A bit more on this below . . .
According to this story, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told the Senate he has circulated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to classify broadband via wireless as an “information service.”
This might at first seem no big deal. After all, in the wake of the Brand X decision, the FCC has moved to declare broadband an “information service” for DSL and cable and, more recently, for broadband over power lines (BPL). So, while I may not be happy with using regulatory classifications to achieve back-door deregulation, what makes wireless services different?
The answer has to do with the peculiar way the Communiations Act works, and the physical reality that use of the electromagnetic spectrum really is different than laying a fiber line. True, “technological neutrality” is one of the great regulatory shibboleths these days, even if it does to reality what Yiphtach (Jeptha) did to the people of Ephriam. But the law and reality do matter sometimes. Like here.
I must give fair warning that the analysis below hinges on what will appear to non-lawyers an incredibly bizzare and artificial distinction with no apparent difference in immediate outcome. But among lawyers, this is like mistaking a Satmar Chassid for a Hesder bachur.
Some analysis below.
CellAntenna, a company that sells wireless equipment, has decided to challenge the FCC’s ban on cell phone jammers. As some of you may recall, about a year and a half ago the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued a public notice that 47 U.S.C. 333 makes it illegal for people to market or use cell phone jammers in this country. (By which I mean active intentional jamming, as the jury is still out on the passive cellphone jamming nano-paint.)
According to the article, CellAntenna has some theory that Section 333 and the FCC’s general authority under the Communications Act are trumped by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Since cell phones are used by terrorists to trigger bombs, they appear to argue in the article, the public security mandate outweighs Sec. 333 and the FCC’s determination on its general authority over the use of radio spectrum to prohibit cell phone jammers.
I confess that, based solely on the reading from the article, I’m highly skeptical. Why?
See below . . .
Freaking trade press should know better, or at least learn to read more carefully. There is a steady drum beat of reports, starting I think with this one at RCR Wireless News that the President wants a “wifi tax.” This is, bluntly, a misreading of the plain language of the President’s budget proposal.
Lord knows there is plenty in the proposed budget not to like, but there’s no “wifi tax.” My analysis (and a little context) below.