FCC announces Technology Transitions Policy Task Force

The FCC has announced the formation of an agency-wide Technology Transitions Policy Task Force to advise it on the transition from analog to new digital communications networks and technology.

Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that the task force will be under the leadership of Sean Lev, the commission’s General Counsel, who will serve as Interim Director, and Rebekah Goodheart, Associate Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau, who will serve as Deputy Director.

“The Technology Transitions Policy Task Force will play a critical role in answering the fundamental policy question for communications in the 21st century: In a broadband world, how can we best ensure that our nation’s communications policies continue to drive a virtuous cycle of innovation and investment, promote competition and protect consumers?” Genachowski asked.

As part of the nation’s broadband transition, communications networks are increasingly migrating from special purpose to general purpose, from circuit-switched to packet-switched and from copper to fiber- and wireless-based networks, the FCC said.

Among other issues, the Task Force will coordinate the commission’s efforts on IP interconnection, resiliency of 21st century communications networks, business broadband competition and consumer protection with a particular focus on voice services.

It will also consider recommendations from the Technological Advisory Committee on the PSTN Transition, coordinate with the NARUC Presidential Task Force on Federalism and Telecommunications and evaluate the feedback from the commission’s pending field hearings on Hurricane Sandy.

The Task Force, the FCC said, will conduct a data-driven review and provide recommendations to modernize the commission’s policies in a process that encourages the technological transition, empowers and protects consumers, promotes competition and ensures network resiliency and reliability.

“Technological transitions don’t change the basic mission of the FCC,” Genachowski added. “But technology changes can drive changes in markets and competition. And many of the Commission’s existing rules draw technology-based distinctions. So the ongoing changes in our nation’s communications networks require a hard look at many rules that were written for a different technological and market landscape.

“We anticipated and addressed many of these issues in the National Broadband Plan, and we’ve taken game-changing steps to deliver on its vision, including a once-in-a-generation transformation of Universal Service and intercarrier compensation and unprecedented efforts to unleash new spectrum to meet skyrocketing wireless demand.”

The Task Force will include the Commission’s Chief Economist and Chief Technology Officer, as well as representatives from across the agency, including staff from the Wireline, Wireless, Media, Consumer Affairs and Public Safety Bureaus, as well as the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis.