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Communications Infrastructure

Policy and Politics

Policy and Politics

October 24, 2022 | Regulatory policy rarely develops along a straight line. I’ve spent almost three decades inside the Beltway following, advocating on and deciphering the regulatory policies that have shaped the wireline, wireless and broadband ecosystems. Having recently retired from my post as EVP of Federal Regulatory at AT&T, I’m pleased to announce my new home for sharing highlights and insights from the regulatory world: my Policy and Politics blog, hosted by iGR.

There is much to muse on in the policy space these days. Foremost of course is the BEAD and the CHIPs Act funding, both multi-billion dollar efforts being managed by the Commerce Department that will shape broadband and 5G investment and deployment for the next decade. I hope to provide regular updates as the allocation process for both of these signature legislative efforts moves forward.

Spectrum policy is also an area deserving of attention. Last month, at NTIA’s Annual Spectrum Policy Symposium, representatives from NTIA, the FAA and the DoD were all aligned in their support for adopting a more comprehensive and forward-looking National Spectrum Strategy. The troubled FAA/5G chapter demonstrated the need to better coordinate with government spectrum users as spectrum bands are commercially reallocated.

But of course agreeing to work on a national strategy is just the first step in the significant effort it will take to adopt an effective one. And based on my many years in the spectrum policy trenches, spectrum policy battles are fought — and won or lost — one spectrum band at a time.

On that score, the next big opportunity for an FCC auction of new commercial allocations has long thought to be in the 3.1–3.45 GHz band, currently utilized by DoD. But DoD CIO John Sherman made clear at the Symposium that it was “untenable” for the DoD to vacate this band, which houses an array of military radar systems. This will likely set up a protracted debate about whether and how to share this valuable mid-band spectrum turf, which sits adjacent to the C-Band that raked in over $80B at auction.

And all of this will continue to play out in a fractured political environment. Despite bipartisan agreement on the importance of reauthorizing the FCC’s spectrum auction authority before it expired in September, Congress could not reach agreement on an appropriate legislative framework to get the job done. The issue ultimately got folded into the Continuing Resolution, which gives Congress until December 16 to continue the debate.

In the coming months, I hope to go deeper into these and other regulatory issues that are shaping the communications and infrastructure landscapes. My thanks to Iain and iGR for this opportunity to provide regular updates as policy and politics continue to unfold in DC.

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