Entries with tag federal communications commission.

US Agency Charges LA Building Owner for Lights that Interfere with Communications

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has cited a Los Angeles office building owner has been cited by for interfering with local cellular communications. The FCC says fluorescent lights at Ernst & Young Plaza, a 41-story  building near downtown, emit frequencies that interfere with a Verizon Wireless 700-MHz network. The commission thus cited the building’s owner, Brookfield Office Properties, which reportedly has investigated the matter without submitting the findings to the FCC. Verizon previously complained to the FCC about the interference prompting the agency’s investigation. The FCC has requested the results of the building owner’s internal investigation, as well as steps it is taking to resolve the issue, within 60 days. The commission could fine Brookfield as much as $16,000 per day, up to a total of $112,500, and seek criminal sanctions if it keeps using the lighting. The company—which says it is committed to resolving technical issues associated with its properties—has 30 days to challenge the FCC findings. The problem is reportedly a General Electric lighting fixture transformer that emits high-frequency radio signals. Fixture maker General Electric provided information about how consumers can replace bad fixtures, according to the FCC. This is reportedly the same fixture found last year to be interfering with an AT&T 700-MHz Long Term Evolution (LTE) cell site in San Antonio, Texas. (SlashDot)(Fierce Wireless)(PC World)

SoftBank Not Changing Bid for Sprint despite Competition

Although facing stiff competition in its quest to buy Sprint Nextel’s wireless business, leading suitor SoftBank is not changing its $20.1 billion bid for 70 percent of the company. Satellite-communications company Dish Network recently made a $25.5 billion counteroffer, giving Sprint shareholders $7 per share and 32 percent equity in the combined DISH/Sprint. Executives with SoftBank, a Japanese telecommunications firm, say they expect to complete the Sprint purchase, which regulators are reviewing now, by 1 July. Intel is backing SoftBank in the deal, saying in a recent letter to the US Federal Communications Commission that the merger would bring more competition to the US wireless market. A special meeting for Sprint shareholders to vote on the issue is tentatively scheduled for 12 June. (Reuters)(IT World)

Obama Nominates Telecom Investor as FCC Chief

US President Barack Obama has selected Tom Wheeler, a venture capitalist with considerable experience in the country’s telecommunication industry, to head the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  The appointment must now be approved by the US Senate. Wheeler is managing director of Core Capital Partners, a Washington, D.C. investment firm. He was CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association between 1992 and headed the National Cable Television Association from 1979 to 1984. Both associations are trade organizations. He also reportedly raised more than $700,000 for Obama’s two presidential election campaigns. If approved, Wheeler would replace Julius Genachowski, who resigned in March after four years as FCC chair. Some telecommunications watchdog groups are concerned that, given Wheeler’s previous experience, he might favor businesses over consumers. If approved, Wheeler would face a pending and very complicated US communications-spectrum auction. Obama appointed FCC member Mignon Clyburn as interim chair until Wheeler’s nomination is finalized. (The New York Times)(TIME)

Important Challenges Face New FCC Head

When US Federal Communications Commission chair Julius Genachowski leaves his post “in the coming weeks,” there will likely be a heap of expectations facing his successor. President Barack Obama has yet to name a replacement and no firm date for Genachowski’s last day at the agency has been released, but Capitol Hill and industry pundits are rife with opinions as to what direction the agency head should go. For example, Phil Weiser, dean of the University of Colorado law school and a former senior presidential adviser, claims this could be a time to redefine the FCC’s role, which could include improving its enforcement capabilities and allow it to be more responsive to emerging issues through self-regulation. He told the Washington Post that one of the main priorities will be “freeing up wireless spectrum not only for consumers but also for machine-to-machine communications.” He added, “A core challenge for the FCC and the government is to create more access to spectrum, which will enable more entrepreneurs, companies, and individuals to use it in interesting ways. In addition to freeing up licensed spectrum, the government could also make available additional unlicensed spectrum.” The leading candidates for the FCC post are reportedly Tom Wheeler, a venture capitalist who has led wireless and the cable trade groups; and Jessica Rosenworcel, an FCC commissioner backed by US Senate Commerce Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller and 37 other senators. (The Washington Post)(Reuters)

Genachowski Resignation Prompts Net Neutrality Questions

United States Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski announced 22 March he plans to leave the post after four years. The immediate question posed by observers is what this means to President Obama’s campaign pledge that the Internet will remain free and open, which Genachowski supported. During his tenure, Genachowski was able to expand broadband Internet services in the US and also started freeing spectrum for sale to mobile phone companies. According to The New York Times, he has not announced his plans “although people close to him said it was more likely he would move to a Washington research institute rather than to a telecommunications company or an industry trade group." (SlashDot)(The New York Times)

White House Supports Unlocked Digital Devices

The White House announced this week that US consumers should be allowed to easily move their wireless services to different carriers without facing penalties for using an unlocked device not sold by the new service provider. Cellular phones and tablets are typically sold by carriers at deep discounts in exchange for tying them to a long-term service contract. Providers thus typically lock or prevent digital devices from moving freely between networks. However, consumer advocates and customers contend they should be able to take their devices with them, if they switch to a competitor because, for example, it offers better prices. Locking handsets, they say, reduces consumer choice and phones’ resale value. The US Library of Congress banned the unlocking of phones beginning this year. Following complaints, the Library of Congress has continued to back its ruling but has said officials should review the issue. US Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has supported the unlocking of phones. (Wall Street Journal)(Reuters)

New US Report Finds that Many Still Have Limited Broadband Service

A newly released US Federal Communications Commission report found that about 19 million people in the country still lack broadband Internet access. The FCC’s Eighth Broadband Progress Report, released Tuesday, notes that there has been significant progress in expanding high-speed Internet access nationally but that universal access will require further reforms. Of all states in the US, West Virginia has the highest percentage of residents without high-speed Internet: 46 percent, representing 845,000 people. State officials contend the FCC used outdated information and say they are spending $126.3 million in federal stimulus funds to bring fiber-optic cable to public facilities and will distribute $4 million to rural broadband projects in December. The new report also calls out Montana, South Dakota, and Alaska for limited broadband access. (The Associated Press @ The Charleston Daily Mail)(The Charleston Gazette)(Forbes)(United States Federal Communications Commission)

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