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Increasing Spectrum & Mobile Broadband Access



STAFF CONTACTS

JULIE KEARNEY
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs
703-907-7644
jkearney@CE.org

VERONICA O'CONNELL
Vice President, Government and Political Affairs
703-907-7577
voconnell@CE.org

ALEX REYNOLDS
Sr. Manager and Regulatory Counsel
703-907-4169
areynolds@CE.org

Spectrum


CEA believes that in the 21st century economy, spectrum is the oxygen of innovation. We strongly support legislative efforts to authorize the FCC to conduct voluntary incentive auctions in order to secure 500 MHz of additional spectrum for broadband services and address our looming spectrum shortfall. More, CEA believes that any additional spectrum should be available for both licensed and unlicensed use. 

  • June 16, 2014 – Unlicensed spectrum – the radio spectrum that allows entrepreneurs to harness a communications medium in order to connect people and devices wirelessly – generates $62 billion a year for the U.S. economy, according to a new report from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. The report, Unlicensed Spectrum and the American Economy, examines the economic impact of unlicensed spectrum based on a device’s incremental retail sale value, a metric that takes into account only the fraction of the sales price attributable to unlicensed spectrum.
  • June 2014  – On June 12, CEA applauded Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for introducing the Wireless Innovation Act (S. 2473). The legislation is a forward-looking approach that will help to ensure that our commercial spectrum supply can meet consumer demand by reallocating government spectrum for commercial use, establishing an auction pipeline with deadlines, and incentivizing federal agencies to reallocate spectrum.

    Rubio, along with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), also introduced the Wi-Fi Innovation Act (S. 2505) on June 19. CEA commended the bipartisan approach toward identifying new spectrum for unlicensed uses through the study initiated by this legislation.
  • April 25, 2014 – The House Energy and Commerce Committee issued a white paper seeking comments regarding spectrum issues as they pertain to updating the Communications Act.  CEA responded on April 25 with several recommendations, including: (1) the need to ensure that unlicensed spectrum is a part of any future spectrum plans; (2) that Federal users have incentives to relinquish spectrum; (3) that more spectrum must be made available for commercial use; (4) operating rules should allow for flexible use, while protecting incumbent users; (5) harm claim thresholds strike an appropriate balance between flexibility, innovation, and interference protection; and (6) effective management of spectrum assignment and use is critical.
  • March 31, 2014 – CEA filed comments in response to the FCC’s request for input regarding ways in which to reform its processes. In its comments, CEA offered recommendations to improve coordination with other agencies regarding spectrum issues, how to improve multi-stakeholder advisory groups, the need to move to electronic labeling of products, and several other considerations.
  • March 20, 2014 – On February 14, the White House issued a Request for Information seeking comment on ways that the federal agencies could be incentivized to relinquish their spectrum for commercial use. On March 20, CEA filed comments in support of relinquishment, noting that the use of appropriate incentives—which should go beyond mere cost recovery—is essential to freeing up spectrum for exclusive commercial use. We also stated that spectrum sharing may be appropriate where spectrum cannot be cleared for exclusive use.

Voluntary Spectrum Auctions


CEA supports legislative efforts to authorize the FCC to conduct voluntary incentive auctions in order to secure 500 MHz of spectrum for broadband services. 

  • May 30, 2014: CEA joined with like-minded associations to urge the FCC to grant an interim waiver of its “former defaulter” rule. The rule states that any entity that has defaulted on a debt to the FCC or any other federal agency must pay 150 percent more in upfront payments if that entity wishes to participate in an auction. The scope of the rule is disproportionate to its intended purpose – an entity wishing to bid in an auction, like the forthcoming incentive auction, could be forced to finance millions of dollars more, up front, than other bidders, thus discouraging bidding. CEA supports a request by DIRECTV and EchoStar to grant an interim waiver and appropriately narrow the scope of the rule, which will help facilitate bidder participation in upcoming spectrum auctions.
  • May 15, 2014   The FCC approved an Order laying the ground rules for the broadcast incentive auction. This Order is the first in a series that will gradually flesh out the auction’s many moving parts. Many provisions of the Order, such as the allocation of guard bands for unlicensed spectrum use, were advocated by CEA. CEA will continue to be actively involved in these proceedings.

NET NEUTRALITY


We believe that consumers should have the right to attach devices of their choice to broadband networks as well as have unfettered access to content. CEA believes that the government can most effectively address the net neutrality debate by reallocating spectrum for wireless broadband use. This reallocation would ensure rapid broadband deployment and a competitive, pro-consumer broadband marketplace.

  • May 15, 2014   The FCC approved a proposal to revise its open Internet rules, also known as net neutrality. The proposal asks many questions about how the FCC should proceed in light of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in the Verizon v. FCC case, which invalidated key provisions of the old open Internet rules. CEA is evaluating the FCC’s proposal and is seeking member feedback.

NATIONAL BROADBAND PLAN (NBP)


CEA supported the release of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan in March 2010. Specifically, CEA commended the FCC’s goals regarding our nation’s spectrum crisis, competition in the marketplace for video devices and accessibility issues. CEA will continue to work closely with the FCC through the rulemaking process to ensure that the goals of the NBP are met.

PARENTAL CONTROLS


In today’s fast- changing media landscape, the consumer electronics industry, policymakers and all other stakeholders share a common goal: to protect our children and help them to advance and thrive in today’s digital world. To that end, the CEA’s member companies have developed and continue to provide effective products and product features to help parents structure their children’s television experience. Video providers also offer a broad array of parental control tools. Interested parents can take advantage of this vibrant marketplace to find technological tools and services to tailor their children’s viewing experience to meet their family’s particular needs. Because a myriad of options for parents exist, CEA does not support government-mandated parental control technologies.

ATTACHMENT OF DEVICES TO PAY-TV SERVICES


CEA has long-supported the ability of consumers to attach the device of their choice to their pay-TV service. In the Telecom Act of 1996, Congress included language to ensure the availability of competitive devices at retail so that consumers could buy a device and attach it to their pay-TV service. The CableCARD was envisioned as a bridge between CE devices and pay-TV services, but this solution has been met with many roadblocks by the cable industry. CEA supported FCC action to strengthen its CableCARD rules. Recognizing the lack of competition in the market for competitive devices, the FCC’s National Broadband Plan recommended that the FCC initiate a proceeding to ensure that a “gateway” device is installed by pay-TV (MVPD) providers in all new subscriber homes and all homes requiring replacement set-top boxes by the end of 2012. The NBP suggested that the gateway device should be simple and that its sole function should only be to “bridge the proprietary or unique elements of the MVPD network.” CEA supports the continued use of CableCARDs and movement toward a gateway device. We must achieve a level playing field for competitive devices.

FCC COMMENT SUBMISSIONS


For submissions prior to 2013 please contact publicpolicy@ce.org