TR Daily FCC Chief of Staff Says 5.9 GHz NPRM Would Improve Auto Safety
Tuesday, December 10, 2019

FCC Chief of Staff Says 5.9 GHz NPRM Would Improve Auto Safety

FCC Chief of Staff Matthew Berry today argued that the notice of proposed rulemaking on the 5.9 gigahertz band scheduled for a vote at the agency’s meeting on Thursday is better for the automobile industry than the status quo, because it proposes allocating some spectrum for use by cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology, rather than focusing all automobile safety spectrum on “failed” dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) technology.

Speaking at the 37th Annual Institute on Telecommunications Policy & Regulation, organized by the Practising Law Institute, in conjunction with the Federal Communications Bar Association, Mr. Berry said that “we would certainly want to have [the docket proceed to an order] in the next year.”

Asked whether input from the Department of Transportation has caused the agency to make changes in the 5.9 GHz item, Mr. Berry said, “We did meaningfully change the NPRM in light of those discussions,” adding that the item had been “significantly” changed since the draft version circulated.

“At the end of the day, the Commission has to do what it thinks is in the public interest,” he said. “We see the status quo in this band as a failure.”

Asked about the letter yesterday from a bipartisan group of 48 senators urging future-proofing of networks supported by the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) and prequalifying of RDOF auction participants (TR Daily, Dec. 9), Mr. Berry said, “I did see the letter yesterday.” He said the FCC welcomes input from Congress on this program.

“I certainly agree that we would want to encourage the buildout of broadband networks with this money that will stand the test of time,” he said. He suggested the FCC could “create economic incentives for higher speed buildouts” by giving them preference in the auction, as was done with the Connect America Fund Phase II auction. In that auction, he said, less than 2% of the locations for which support was awarded “ended up with the minimum speed.”

“I think we want faster speed services to be victorious in auctions,” he added.

Asked about interagency disputes over spectrum allocations going on in public, Mr. Berry said, “At the end of the day, the way the system is set up the FCC is an independent agency.”

Although it confers with other agencies and interagency groups as appropriate, “at the end of the day, statutory authority lies with the FCC. … The process is not set up so that the executive branch” gets to make the decisions about spectrum allocations.

Asked about FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposed FCC auction of C band spectrum, Mr. Berry said, “As the Chairman has indicated, the next step is to go to an order in the proceeding. We anticipate doing that early next year. We will have to seek comment on auction procedures in a public notice. We fully expect to begin a C-band auction of up to 280 megahertz [of spectrum] by the end of 2020.”

Pressed about his confidence in meeting that goal, he said, “I fully expect we’re going to meet our deadline.”

Asked about what he views the “Pai legacy” will be with respect to satellites, Mr. Berry said, “We’ve been very active in authorizing large satellite constellations. They’re not all going to be successful,” as that is something for the market to decide.

“We’re hopeful that in the next year or so we’re going to see low orbit satellites provide broadband at speeds satellites have not been capable of before,” he added.

Asked about whether the FCC plans to follow up on last year’s forum on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, Mr. Berry noted that the agency’s Technological Advisory Council (TAC) approved recommendations on AI from one of its working groups (TR Daily, Dec. 4). “We look forward to reviewing that,” he said.

“We have no authority in regulation AI per se,” he noted, but the agency is interested in issues such as the impact of AI on dynamic spectrum sharing. —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]

MainStory: FederalNews FCC SpectrumAllocation UniversalServiceLifeline

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