Democrats Tee Up Host Of Issues for FCC Oversight Hearing

According to the Democratic staff memo for the House Communications Subcommittee FCC oversight hearing Thursday (Dec. 12), that side of the aisle has a bunch of issues that could come up during the hearing.

That includes planes, trains, but no automobiles, though that issue could also come up if freeing up more WiFi in the 5 GHz band surfaces as part of spectrum discussion.

While the majority memo focused on four basic issue--broadcast incentive auctions, government spectrum policy, universal service, and the IP transition--The Democrats list includes a number of other issues.

According to a copy of the minority staff memo, they are looking for status reports on cell phone unlocking, in-flight mobile wireless, positive train control, the open Internet order, the IP transition, and the E-rate and Lifeline programs.

The memo talks about several spectrum issues, including the three spectrum auctions mandated by Congress--the H block auction, the first, scheduled for Jan. 22, 2014; the second, AWS-3 auction, which like the H block must be completed by February 2014; and the broadcast incentive auction, which is now scheduled for mid-2015.

The memo does not mention feeing up spectrum in the 5MHz band, although at last one of the commissioners, Ajit Pai, talks about it in his testimony for the hearing. That is where automobiles could come in, since automakers are concerned that loosening the rules to free up more WiFi for cable hot spots could interfere with driver control and warning systems.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.