The FCC’s Technological Advisory Council today received a myriad of recommendations from its five working groups, including those dealing with rural broadband deployment, the removal of obsolete technical rules, mobile device theft prevention, and satellite system spectrum sharing.
The broadband deployment technical challenges working group recommended, among other things, that the FCC encourage broadband providers to use long-term technologies, consider developing an Economic Advisory Council to assist the chief economist in understanding the micro-economic operations on rural broadband deployment, and coordinate with government entities on GIS [geographic information system] modeling and an accessible database.
The working group also recommended that the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) develop a planning guide for future broadband providers and publish success stories. It also suggested that the FCC and BDAC coordinate to better identify where broadband exists today and develop partnering guidance.
The removing obsolete or unnecessary technical rules working group recommended that the FCC begin using consensus-based standards as an alternative, or in addition to, traditional regulations. To accomplish this, the FCC should engage with standards-development organizations and industry organizations, according to the recommendation, and should make public its areas of focus.
Walter Johnston, the chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology’s Electromagnetic Compatibility Division, who is the TAC’s designated federal officer, stressed the enormous resources that would be required of the FCC to implement such a recommendation, a burden that was acknowledged during the working group’s presentation.
The working group also recommended that the FCC modify some of its equipment certification processes and industry engagement models to streamline harmonization and create a self-certification trusted vendor program.
Specifically, it should establish a manufacturer declaration of confirmation (MDoC) process for specific very low-power wireless devices, establish a telecommunications certification body (TCB) fast certification process for radio devices, adopt/harmonize internationally harmonized standards for RF exposure, and cover families of products with its equipment authorizations, according to the working group. The working group also said the FCC should consider retaining the working group so it can continue its efforts next year.
“I think there’s a lot of terrific ideas in here,” said OET Chief Julie Knapp. But he said the FCC has to make sure that any changes continue to protect various operations authorized by the Commission and don’t result in even “more burdensome” procedures. In particular, he cited “the complexity of the products” that the FCC is asked to authorize.
TAC member Dale Hatfield, a senior fellow at the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said that public interest groups, including those representing people with disabilities, should be part of the process considering changes to the equipment authorization rules.
The working group on mobile device theft prevention recommended that the FCC define a “national objective” for mobile device theft prevention, and that it partner with industry to become more knowledgeable on security issues. The working group said as part of this effort, the FCC should eye expanding international outreach by leveraging its current relationships with regulators in other countries. The working group said the agency also should seek to leverage any relationships with law enforcement entities. And it should monitor International Telecommunication Union work on mobile device theft prevention.
The working group also stressed various activities ahead in 2018 on the mobile device theft prevention front, noting the difficulty in getting data from law enforcement and municipalities to gauge whether technologic solutions deployed by industry have decreased mobile device theft.
For example, the working group said communications channels need to be established with law enforcement entities to get theft statistics, an educational workshop should be held in the first quarter of 2018 to highlight industry theft prevention efforts, the impact of a stolen phone checker needs to be determined, best practices should be developed, and stakeholders should gauge whether new technologies will enable further mobile device theft prevention mechanisms. There also is a continuing need to convince more carriers, both in the U.S. and other countries, to tackle mobile device theft, the working group said.
Mr. Johnston noted the difficulty of collecting mobile device theft data as many of the 18,000 law enforcement organizations in the U.S. don’t break theft data down that precisely. The working group also said that it has been harder recently for the industry to get reliable data on mobile device thefts. The goal is to identify some “beacon cities,” rather than just one city, to enable stakeholders to track progress on preventing device thefts, Mr. Johnston said.
The satellite communications working group recommended that the FCC use and encourage a risk-informed interference assessment (RIIA) to manage coexistence between non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) systems. It also said that the FCC should adopt rules that enable adaptable system architectures, should focus on technology-neutral policies, and should revisit how to improve broadband deployment data.
The TAC also approved a white paper by the working group that concluded that the FCC should consider using an RIIA.
Regarding work for next year, the working group preliminarily proposed helping the FCC define an appropriate role concerning space debris and examining rules to enable both new entrants and major companies to use spectrum.
The TAC also approved a white paper presented by the implications of next-generation TV broadcasting technology working group. The working group recommended that the Commission closely monitor the deployment of ATSC 3.0 and examine whether any issues need to be addressed in the future.
In brief opening remarks, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai commended TAC members for their work and noted that the Commission has acted on recommendations in its spectrum frontiers and tech transitions proceedings.
He also said it plans to follow up on pending recommendations, including by opening a noise floor proceeding, “which is something I can tell you I hear about constantly from folks when I travel around, especially broadcasters.”
He noted work that is planned to explore certain classes of products that are causing interference and pointed out that OET last week sought comment on TAC recommendations on spectrum policy (TR Daily, Dec. 1).
Mr. Pai said the FCC looks forward to reviewing the recommendations discussed today and implementing them, as well as focusing on TAC work for next year. “We don’t want this to be make-work,” he said.
Mr. Knapp said the FCC plans to adopt an NOI on the noise floor as well as look at what standards should apply for certain types of RF devices.
Among the possible topics for TAC work next year are the Internet of Things, 5G market challenges, advanced sharing technologies, noise limitation, and drones. TAC members were urged to weigh in with suggestions.
Also at today’s meeting, the TAC voted to approve a certification of achievement honoring Vanu Bose, president and chief executive officer of Vanu, Inc., a developer of software-defined radio technology, who died last month at the age of 52 (TR Daily, Nov. 13). TAC members mentioned the assistance that Mr. Bose had provided the TAC.
The next meeting of the TAC is tentatively scheduled for March 7, 2018. —Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org