Regulatory Tidbits of Note

A long-delayed bookmarks-cleaning brought my attention to these interesting bits of (relatively) recent note:
1) A joint task force of the FCC and National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) devoted to “spectrum reform” will close its public comment period March 18 on a somewhat nebulous charge to:
(a) foster economic growth;
(b) ensure our national and homeland security;
(c) maintain U.S. global leadership in communications technology development and services; and
(d) satisfy other vital U.S. needs in areas such as public safety, scientific research, Federal transportation infrastructure, and law enforcement.

Those with healthy senses of paranoia may view this as the opening stage of a historic spectrum sale – and they may be right, for all we really know about what’s going on. At the moment four comments have been filed on the “spectrum reform” Notice of Inquiry. A multi-party request was filed to extend the comment period; the NTIA denied it in less than a day. Word is, though, that it is accepting comments via e-mail.
2) Another pending initiative that surfaced briefly in the mainstream media recently was the FCC’s proposed rulemaking to allow broadband data services over power lines. It sounds like a dream come true with blazing speed, but there’s the potential for a huge RF pollution problem. As the lines aren’t shielded, data flowing over power lines can cause heaps of noise, which the American Amateur Relay League warns (crudely yet effectively) could wipe out the use of a large chunk of the radio spectrum. Note the progress of #2 will likely be tied to machinations in #1, and the promotion of more broadband data services is already a strategic priority for the FCC.
3) The FCC’s proposed a budget totaling $292,598,000 for FY 2005. Its notes the majority of the 6.5% ($19 million) increase will go toward modernizing equipment, both online and in the field.
This includes $802,000 specifically earmarked for “the purchase of replacement monitoring vehicles including the materials to equip them. These resources will strengthen the effectiveness of the Commission’s field enforcement activities, directly furthering Spectrum and Homeland Security goals and objectives.” There is, however, no projected increase in enforcement staff.