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You have to admire Anna Eshoo

The House sub-committee on communications and technology met today to discuss the relocation of federal spectrum and the challenges to spectrum sharing. My takeaway from the discussion was a low expectation that federal agencies will be able to get it together on finding ways to relocate and money to upgrade their facilities should they have to inhabit new real estate along the spectrum beach head.

Honestly, the representative from the Department of Defense, Teri Takai, made a good argument about concerns DOD had about interference with its air combat preparedness. Being a member of the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary myself, her argument honestly hit a cord with me. I’d rather the military keep their spectrum or at least be given a sufficient amount of time to carefully assess what frequencies they can live without.

I didn’t hear any of the congressmen suggest (threaten) any new legislation that would (in your dreams) expedite the vacate of spectrum bands by the federal government. Anna Eshoo, Democrat of California, minced no words when she expressed her displeasure at how long it was taken federal agencies to come up with a plan to relocate their frequencies. She’s expended a little political capital on the issue based on recent comments she made in support of President Obama’s creation of a spectrum task force team:

“I welcome the administration’s creation of a spectrum policy team, operating as a joint venture between federal agencies uniquely positioned to maximize the efficiency and value of our nation’s airwaves. Relinquishing or sharing underutilized spectrum can yield more efficient use of this limited resource and help to propel our communications economy even further into the digital age.”

The sub-committee is exhibiting bi-partisan energy on the matter. You really can’t get to partisan about spectrum.

The sub-committee chairman, Greg Walden, Republican of Oregon, seemed pretty upbeat about today’s meeting as well:

“I’m convinced we can upgrade federal systems while freeing spectrum, thereby promoting both our nation’s safety and economic well-being. Last year, Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, including the commercial incentive auction provisions that were the fruits of this subcommittee’s labor. Such auctions can help make spectrum available to meet the growing demand from mobile broadband services, provided the FCC gets the auction and band plans right,” said Chairman Walden. “Building on the knowledge gained by the working group, today we look at the tools available to maintain and even improve federal agencies capabilities while freeing spectrum for commercial use.”

Congress is limited by how much fire it can put under the butts of federal agencies. Leadership will have to come from the executive branch and I don’t see President Obama being able to push the military any harder. It’s not worth his political capital.

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So where is the Obama Administration alternative to SOPA?

The Wall Street Journal reported last Saturday about President Obama’s discomfort with the Stop Online Piracy Act. Seems even if it passes Congress, Mr. Obama will veto it.

Is the Obama Administration saying it’s more concerned about protecting content delivered by rogue web sites? If what is currently on the books was effective against infringement on American copyrights, would this legislation have been brought forward? What alternative legislation has the Obama Administration offered?

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Obama nominates Pai to the FCC

Posted November 4th, 2011 in FCC, Government Regulation and tagged , , by Alton Drew

President Obama pulled a two-fer by also nominating Ajit V. Pai to the Federal Communications Commission. Mr. Pai’s resume is just as blah-ful as Ms. Rosenworcel. Like I said, just black out the names and you could be looking at 100 different lawyers within any communications law shop in D.C.

To his credit, President Obama has managed to nominate a diverse and relatively young bunch to the FCC over the past two plus years, but that doesn‘t put much shine in the cookie cutter either.

Please credit Jenner & Block’s website from which Mr. Pai’s bio is taken.

Ajit V. Pai is a partner in Jenner & Block’s Washington, D.C. office. He is a member of the Firm’s Litigation Department and its Communications Practice.

Mr. Pai has held a number of senior public sector jobs involving communications, administrative, and constitutional law. Immediately prior to joining Jenner & Block, Mr. Pai worked in the Office of the General Counsel of the Federal Communications Commission, where he served since 2007 as Deputy General Counsel, Associate General Counsel, and Special Advisor to the General Counsel. As Deputy General Counsel, Mr. Pai had supervisory responsibility for over 40 lawyers in the Administrative Law Division, handling a wide variety of regulatory and transactional matters involving the cable, Internet, wireless, media, satellite, and public safety industries, among others.

During his time with the Commission, Mr. Pai advised FCC Chairmen of both political parties and a number of current and former Commissioners. He worked with every agency bureau and office on a wide variety of rulemakings, adjudications, and administrative matters, and had significant legal and policy input on virtually every major decision the agency considered, such as Internet network management, wireless spectrum auctions, the Sirius-XM merger, and media and cable ownership questions. He also argued before and prevailed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Inc. v. FCC; was responsible for non-communications legal matters, including privacy, intellectual property, and environmental law; drafted a comprehensive revision of agency rules and procedures; and led the Commission’s response to the broadest Congressional investigation in recent history.

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There would be nothing wrong with a change in direction on AT&T, President Obama

Holman Jenkins wrote a piece in The Wall Street Journal recommending that President Obama’s administration follow the policy path taken by President Richard Nixon over forty years ago. That path called for a more passive approach to antitrust regulation.

Mr. Jenkins sees the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit to block AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile as not doing much for the economy much less the market for wireless services.

What’s also disappointing, in addition to failing to appreciate the notion of market disruption, is Justice’s failure to properly identify the relevant product market. They think it is mobile wireless telecommunications. It isn’t. The relevant product market is broadband access. Customers are buying these phones to primarily text, tweet, and update Facebook statuses.

Voice is secondary. And when consumers make a market for these broadband access devices and services, they make them at their local MetroPCS, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Boost, and Virgin Mobile stores …

ATT/T-Mobile opponents want Obama to stop the merger

Opponents of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger want President Obama to intervene and persuade the U.S. Department of Justice to stop the transaction.

Let me catch my breath ….okay.

I’ve tweeted before and I’ll blog again. This transaction is about law and economics, something too many of these opponents don’t seem to grasp. Heck. We just celebrated July 4th and these opponents still think we have a king.

What would be the president’s basis for intervention? If antitrust law is not violated by the transaction, do you really expect Mr. Obama to order or otherwise persuade Attorney General Holder to stop a merger?

Besides, two will be doing the tango in the review: the DOJ and the Federal Communications Commission, an last time I checked, the FCC was an independent agency.