FCC Senior Officials Review Policies and Procedures

At Wednesday's open commission meeting, FCC senior officials reviewed FCC policies and procedures and outlined how their agencies implement the commission's strategic plan. The presentations are concise and illustrate each agency's key objectives and achievements in the past year.

The FCC Office of Engineering (OET) showed pictures of new equipment and test facilities at the recently reorganized FCC laboratory. This equipment will be needed as they evaluate DTV tuners, the potential for interference from unlicensed devices and authorized new ultra-wideband (UWB) devices. Last year OET authorized 18 new UWB products.

The Mass Media Bureau presented a graph of the average price for cable TV programming, which showed significantly lower prices in markets with a second cable operator. The DTV transition was represented with a graph showing that the number of DTV stations licensed or operating under program test authority pending grant of a license increased to 1,041, while the number of stations operating under special temporary authority decreased to 545. Another graph showed the total number of DTV households increased from 12.2 million in 2004 to 22 million in 2005. The rapid increase in the number of digital terrestrial radio stations, to a total of 818 was noted.

The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) highlighted $14 billion dollars in gross winning bids in the four spectrum auctions completed in 2006, covering licenses for advanced wireless service, FM broadcast, 800 MHz air-to-ground service, and full power TV. WTB noted that it administered over 3 million licenses.

The Enforcement Bureau showed it handled more than 1,000 cases in preventing interference to public safety radio, conducted more than 700 inspections to verify broadcaster compliance with EAS rules, conducted more than 60 investigations regarding unauthorized equipment, conducted more than 1,600 compliance inspections of towers and tower fencing, and shut down some 85 pirate broadcast stations.

The International Bureau described the 17/24 GHz BSS NPRM; streamlined earth station licensing; new authorizations for satellite broadband; 14 orbital relocations; authorizations for 12 foreign satellites to provide service to the United States; special temporary authority for BGAN services; and participation in international conferences as ways it facilitated and encouraged investment and innovation in broadband technology. The bureau also noted it was promoting the digital transition through cross-border discussions with Canada and Mexico, including promotion of the ATSC standard and developing comprehensive broadcast agreements with Canada and Mexico. The bureau listed organizations it was working with to promote reliability, security and survivability of communications infrastructure. These included various ITU study groups and working groups, the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordinating Committee and the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

The FCC has set up a Web page with copies of the presentations released Jan. 17.