SpectrumTalk has moved!

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
A series of posts describing how this all came about. (Click on picture above)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

FCC and Its Foreign Counterparts:

Sharing Domestic Policy Experiences - Or Not

I am in Japan now for some talks of mine and some by my wife. Memories of my year at the former Japanese MPT are coming back now. Indeed, I will be visiting friends at its successor in a few days. Last week I even gave 2 talks in Japanese on the Docket 04-186 TV whitespace issue, before OET issued its report on its testing. (Oddly, since I have been in Japan, OET has also released its report on AWS-3 so I have been busy filling up my disk drive on my laptop and reading long reports on its screen.)

But what I wanted to write about here was the issue of FCC and its foreign counterparts sharing information on domestic spectrum policy issues and experiences. In the past, FCC was the world leader in most aspects of spectrum policy so there was little to learn from other regulators. However, spectrum is much more complex and other countries have been more active than FCC in certain areas.

When I was working as a Mike Mansfield Fellow at the Japanese MPT, I was surprised to find out that most major policy deliberations are started by sending experts around the world to see how other countries are approaching the same issue. In Japan international information is considered very important. By contrast, I never remember in my nearly 25 years at FCC when studying foreign activity in a given area was considered important - with the express exception of spectrum auctions where there was so much money at stake and nearly endless funding for auction-related expenses.

In the AWS-3 proceeding, Docket 07-195, important issues have been how the FCC's UK and Czech counterparts have handled analogous issues in similar bands. Yet I do not recall any indication from FCC that they had contacted their foreign counterparts or found information independently of the parties in the proceeding.

One issue may be that since the Hundt chairmanship the International Bureau (IB) has positioned itself as the arbiter of all international issue and the key holder of all international travel funds. It tends to see any ITU participation, even sending a 2nd or 3rd person to an obscure ITU-R meeting, as more important than finding input into an important domestic policy proceeding. IB has a strong constituency in the satellite industry and a few other industries with upcoming WRC agenda items. These constituents want all of IB's resources, including travel funds, spent on their pet problems. The thought of sending someone to UK and Czech Republic to study the AWS-3 technical issues is inconceivable in this decision making mechanism. I rememebr that even adding a day on to an ITU-related international trip to get domestic policy-related information was like pulling teeth.

So while I disagree with the Japanese regulatory voyeurism that forces them to seek encyclopedic knowledge of other countries' policies before they start domestic deliberations, I also disagree with the lack of interest within FCC on seeking foreign analogs of pending domestic issues.

No comments: