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FCC's Pai Pledges to Speed Decisions on New Tech

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai signaled Wednesday (March 15) that the FCC will start speeding its consideration of proposed new technologies and services.

That will be by "putting teeth" in the Communications Act requirement (Section 7) that the FCC "shall determine whether any new technology or service proposed in a petition or application is in the public interest within one year after such petition or application is filed." He said that has not been enforced in its three decades of its existence.

In a speech at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pai said that it took the FCC too long to approve LTE-U devices because the FCC had not made a "concerted effort to say yes or nor within a year."

He said that changes as of today.

"I’m directing agency staff to follow Section 7," he said. "And I’m putting our Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) in charge of ensuring that we comply with it.  Going forward, if a petition or application is filed with the FCC proposing a new technology or service, we’ll supply an answer within a year.  To be clear, our answer won’t necessarily be yes.  There could be many reasons why a new technology or service wouldn’t be in the public interest, like interference with an existing service.  But we will provide an answer with dispatch."

AS an example of how that could work, he pointed out that as part of its “Spectrum Frontiers” proceeding, the FCC asked about "allowing novel wireless uses and technologies in frequencies above 95 GHz." He said that rather than "having regulators decide which frequencies are useful," that spectrum should become a testbed for experimentation. He said applications for such testing could qualify for Section 7 treatment, which could, "in turn, could accelerate the deployment of cutting-edge wireless services and other innovations."