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Mignon Clyburn issues statement on 700 MHz inter-operability solution

Posted September 10th, 2013 in Broadband, interoperability, mobile telephone and tagged , , by Alton Drew

“America’s mobile consumers have a reason to celebrate today: After many frustrating years, wireless
carriers have finally reached a voluntary industry solution that will resolve the lack of interoperability in
the lower 700 MHz band in the most efficient manner.

This is a big win for consumers, especially in rural areas, who will see more competition and more choices. Also, by making it easier for small wireless carriers to compete, today’s interoperability solution will spur private investment, job creation, and the development of innovative new services and devices.

That’s why for the past few years, I have been consistent in pushing for a final resolution to this issue.

Thank you to all the parties – AT&T, The Interoperability Alliance, The Competitive Carriers
Association, DISH, and the consumer advocacy groups – who came to the table and worked
collaboratively with FCC staff to hammer out a solution that benefits all consumers.

Many thanks to my staff, especially Michele Ellison, Ruth Milkman and Louis Peraertz, for going above
and beyond the call of duty to achieve this groundbreaking result.”

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RCA meets with FCC to discuss non-interoperable spectrum

The Rural Cellular Association met with FCC staff last Thursday to discuss what they term as the challenges that competitive carriers continue to face, including negotiating fair and reasonable data roaming agreements and a lack of access to mobile end-user devices. This lack of access, according to RCA, is a result of device exclusivity agreements and non-interoperable spectrum.

This ex parte meet and greet is part of a petition filed back in September 2009 in which four rural carriers; Cellular South, Cavalier, Continuum 700, and King Street Wireless, asked the FCC to require all mobile devices operating in the 700 Mhz band be capable of operating over all frequencies in the band. These carriers also asked the FCC to freeze the authorization of mobile equipment that is not capable of operating on all paired commercial 700 Mhz frequencies.

That these carriers had to meet ex parte with FCC staff over two years after the initial petition to reiterate the impact exclusivity agreements may be having on their ability to compete appears indicative of the carriers failure to persuade the FCC to move forward with a final order on the matter.

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Do we really need a Public Safety Broadband Corporation?

President Obama’s American Jobs Plan calls for the creation of a Public Safety Broadband Corporation. This not-for-profit, non-political organization will hold the 700 Mhz D-block spectrum and deploy and manage a broadband network for our nation’s first responders and public safety agencies.

I have reservations about this corporation. My first reaction was, “Is this the broadband version of the Federal Reserve?“

Specifically, the corporation will “hold the single public safety wireless license granted under section 281 (of the Act) and take all actions necessary to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of a secure and resilient nationwide public safety interoperable broadband network …“

There have been two schools of thought on the public safety issue. One school, in which I belong, says that wee ought to just transfer the D-block to public safety and allow local and state governments to enter into the necessary inter-jurisdictional agreements and construction contracts necessary for deploying this network.

I guess the Obama administration is concerned that since such a network will cross a bunch of state lines that they should determine who will receive the spectrum. They may also be thinking that, like September 11, 2001, an event that calls for the use of a nationwide public safety network will be a national event. Maybe. Maybe not.

Even an event as catastrophic as September 11 was mostly local in terms of emergency response. In addition, its been ten years and if the federal government hasn’t provided us with a nationwide broadband network, maybe it’s time for local and state public safety agencies to run with this.