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DOJ calls for FCC to release spectrum, focus on wireless broadband

The Department of Justice said wireless broadband services may be an attractive option for users without high-speed Internet access and could provide more competition to cable, fiber and DSL services. But such options can’t be possible unless federal regulators release more spectrum for mobile broadband services.

The comments (pdf) by the antitrust division of Justice were filed Monday to the Federal Communications Commission, supporting a growing agreement among regulators that the infrastructure of wireless networks at hand today won’t support the explosive growth of wireless smartphone use in the near future.

“Given the potential of wireless services to reach underserved areas and to provide an alternative to wireline broadband providers in other areas, the (FCC) Commission’s primary tool for promoting broadband competition should be freeing up spectrum,” Justice said in its comments.

Specifically, Justice said the FCC should shift “underutilized” spectrum to the hands of wireless carriers. And the agency warned that when giving spectrum, the FCC should take in to consideration how the largest telecom companies could further concentrate their market power through an auction.

The agency also noted that competition among providers of fixed wire and wireless broadband services may be determined by some of the largest telecom providers such as AT&T and Verizon Communications, which operate both services.

“If wireline providers charge more for service packages that involve greater speeds and/or higher usage limits, consumers purchasing these packages may not enjoy the benefits of competition from wireless broadband, or may do so only indirectly to the extent that consumers as a whole display a willingness to substitute slower wireless service for faster wireline service,” the agency said in its filing.

The comments were submitted as part of the FCC’s push to bring affordable and attractive broadband services to all U.S. homes.

In their latest meeting on the development of a national broadband plan, consumer groups criticized the FCC for plans that they feared wouldn’t bring in new competitors to the giant telecom and cable firms that serve most of the nation today.

By Cecilia Kang  |  January 4, 2010; 2:17 PM ET
Categories:  Antitrust , Broadband , DOJ , FCC  
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Comments

The FCC has even managed to screw up garage door openers. Mine has a range of about fifteen feet. It seems they decided that operating a powerful transmitter on this frequency would not reduce range very much. They need to go back and study radio wave transmission before making qny more decisions.

Posted by: pptcmember | January 4, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

The DOJ's statement "wireless broadband services may be an attractive option for users without high-speed Internet access" is a glaring example of Beltway Blindness! Millions of people do not live in D.C. or big cities with wireless services. Opening these frequencies will do little if anything to improve non-city dwellers high speed internet access. Contrary to what the inner Beltway Bureaucrats believe, there really is a another world outside of D.C. It's time they woke up and faced the REAL world!

Posted by: joeblotnik49 | January 5, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

the only place significant spectrum exists to repurpose... something like 99.6 percent of all wireless frequencies... is the military's land-grab. FCC will have to start taking bandwidth from the military, there is no other practical option. to that end, the military should start getting rid of the 1930s and 1940s handbooks and dump the antiques, reserving slivers periodically to permit all-challenge communications, using modern digital and packet techniques instead of wideband AM.

Posted by: swschrad | January 5, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

joeblotnik49, Many millions of people DO live in urban areas, and it is worth improving their access. And, if the spectrum were opened up, it could be set up to reach more remote areas. It appears to be you who have posted remarks that are self-centered and short-sighted.

Posted by: rosepetals64 | January 5, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Swschrad, thanks for the comment. I think you are right. I understand that it is, in fact, the military which is now transmitting on the garage door band, as well as everywhere else. This idea to allocate and utilize the garage door band is new, so I understand. This was simply mean spirited FCC action, disabling garage remotes for many people, including old folks. Google "FCC Garage Door Jamming" or similar for info, including a statement from the FCC on precisely how they ruined this band.

RosePetals, Thanks for the sanity check. I see your point. If wireless broadband used, for example, existing cell phone towers, there is every possibility that rural folks near cell towers could use the Internet. Not all folks, mind you, but some.

Posted by: pptcmember | January 5, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

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