FCC Votes to Speed New Tech Reviews

A somewhat divided FCC has voted to put a hard shot clock on the FCC's review of new technologies.

Speaking at the Feb. 22 public meeting at which the item was adopted, FCC chair Ajit Pai said the change would make the agency an ally rather than impediment to innovation, and would goose what he called "regulatory inertia."

Pai said the FCC should not be a gatekeeper between entrepreneurs and consumers, both of whom benefit from innovation.

While Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn only dissented in part, fellow Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel was squarely against what she called the "seductively simple" proposal and an appearance that was deceiving.

"While preaching the value of speedy decision-making, it sets up a structure to do just the opposite," Rosenworcel said. "It inserts the Federal Communications Commission into the introduction of any new technology or service in the economy in a way that will increase bureaucracy and decrease innovation. This proposal is brazen in its disregard for mistakes of the past, negligent in its failure to acknowledge opportunities for abuse, and bungles the nature of true innovation.”

She said rather than fostering regulatory inertia, the current process allows for the "push and pull of testing, assessing, recalibrating, coordinating and reworking," which helped produce digital TV, WiFi devices and much more.

Related: Rosenworcel Calls for Scheduling Next Spectrum Auction

The NPRM proposes rules and procedures to implement Section 7 of the Communications Act, which requires "timely action by the Commission to encourage provision of new technologies and services to the public."

"While the Commission has a long history of facilitating the introduction of new technologies and services, the regulatory path from technological breakthrough to authorization of service has often been too long and arduous," the FCC majority asserted.

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.