WHEREAS, pursuant to the Communications Act of 1934, it is the long standing policy of the United States to make available, so far as possible, to all the people of the United States a rapid, efficient, nationwide, and worldwide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges; and

WHEREAS, in Resolution 2004-07 NASUCA recognized that telecommunications consumers increasingly rely on wireless service to meet their basic communications needs; and

WHEREAS, policymakers agree that wireless broadband services play an important role in stimulating wireless innovation, providing independent outlets for commerce and free expression; and

WHEREAS, wireless voice and broadband services depend on finite radio spectrum resources that are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC); and

WHEREAS, the National Broadband Plan (NBP) recognized a looming spectrum crunch and called for an additional 500 MHz of spectrum to be used for wireless broadband over the next decade, 300 MHz of which would be used for commercial mobile use and allocated as appropriate by FCC auctions; and

WHEREAS, a recently adopted law directs the FCC, in upcoming wireless spectrum auctions, to achieve several objectives consistent with principles in the NBP, including raising money to fund a nationwide public safety network, raising money to reimburse broadcasters impacted by the reallocation, and maximizing the amount of spectrum being allocated for commercial mobile use; and

WHEREAS, in Docket WT 12-268, the FCC is designing an incentive auction which will allocate additional resources in the 600 MHz spectrum band for commercial mobile use and ensure that the distribution of such spectrum will benefit all consumers; and

WHEREAS, the FCC’s Public Notice in Docket WT 12-269 found that there have been many changes in the mobile wireless industry since the agency first started using a case-by-case approach to assess spectrum concentration ten years ago, and concluded that “these changes warrant reevaluating” the case-by-case approach; and

WHEREAS, particular frequency bands of radio spectrum have unique characteristics that determine the functionality and quality of certain services that are important to consumers; and therefore, commercial mobile providers must maintain a mix of low-frequency and high-frequency spectrum to meet the increasing consumer demands for ubiquitous network coverage, including in-building coverage, and access to high-density mobile applications such as mobile video; and

WHEREAS, the low-band spectrum that will soon be made available through the upcoming auction is uniquely well-suited to wireless broadband deployment as a result of its excellent propagation characteristics, including better coverage inside buildings and across larger rural geographic areas, requiring fewer cell sites and lowering costs; and

WHEREAS, clear spectrum-aggregation rules should serve to mitigate the risk of predation by large incumbent carriers, promote competition, enhance consumer choice, and expand auction participation; and

WHEREAS, on April 11, 2013, the United States Department of Justice filed an ex parte in FCC Docket WT 12-269, sharing its independent expertise and concerns about the current low frequency spectrum concentration among certain commercial mobile providers, its impact on consumers, and the need for the imposition of moderate controls in the upcoming 600 MHz auction to ensure that wireless competition can flourish by providing smaller mobile operators a fair opportunity to access this critical resource and further innovate in the U.S. marketplace; and

WHEREAS, public interest and consumer groups, in advocacy to the FCC and Congress, are urging reasonable limits on access to valuable and high-quality low band spectrum in the upcoming incentive auction by noting that a  “pro-competitive, pro-consumer limitation on spectrum concentration benefits consumers by allowing all interested bidders a legitimate chance of winning the spectrum they need to deliver wireless broadband services while also promoting less predictable, more aggressive bidding for a valuable national resource…”

[see, Joint Letter dated July 22, 2013, from Public Knowledge, Free Press, Writers Guild of America West, New America Foundation and National Hispanic Media Coalition, to leadership of the House Commerce Committee]; and

WHEREAS, in Resolution 1998-09 NASUCA urged appropriate state regulatory agencies, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission to give proposed mergers in the telecommunications industry close scrutiny to assure that mergers are only permitted if they provide positive benefits directly to consumers and that mergers do not inhibit full and effective competition and in the event they are approved, associated benefits are flowed through to ratepayers; and

WHEREAS, in Resolution 1998-09 NASUCA noted the accelerating pace of mergers in the telecommunications industry and recognized that this trend of mergers may lead to the curtailment of competition by the removal of competing firms with the size, expertise and revenue streams to provide effective competition; and

WHEREAS, in Resolution 1998-09 NASUCA stated that state regulators, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission must assure consumers that the mergers will not unduly consolidate market and economic power to forestall, thwart or discourage competition and will not pose major regulatory difficulties for the states by the sheer size of the firms; and

WHEREAS, an auction process that results in increased spectrum concentration among large commercial mobile operators and the inability of smaller commercial mobile operators to have a fair opportunity to obtain necessary spectrum raises similar concerns as those raised by increased concentration following mergers in the landline communications industry, including diminishing the competitive wireless options available to customers for wireless voice, data, broadband and Lifeline service, accelerating concentration in the wireless industry and increasing the market power of the two largest wireless carriers; and

WHEREAS, in Resolution 2012-01, NASUCA urged the FCC and, in Resolution 2012-02, the states, to ensure the continued application of traditional public interest obligations to voice service, regardless of the technology used to provide the service; and

WHEREAS, NASUCA has adopted several previous resolutions addressing issues of importance to wireless customers such as consumer protection (Resolution 2008-02), the right of states to establish and enforce COLR and ETC universal service obligations (Resolution 2012-02),  reforms to wireless Lifeline service (Resolution 2010-12), service quality disclosures (Resolution 2004-07) and early termination fees (Resolution 2007-03); and

WHEREAS, Congress has passed and the FCC has previously relied upon provisions of the federal Telecommunications Act [47 USC §309 et seq. and 47 USC §332] which promote economic opportunity, competition and ensure that new and innovative technologies are readily accessible to the American people by: (a) avoiding excessive concentration of licenses, (b) disseminating licenses among a variety of applicants via FCC rules specifically concerning spectrum aggregation; and, (c) taking actions to manage the availability of spectrum through auction controls; now therefore be it

RESOLVED, That NASUCA urges federal regulators to employ, in accordance with federal law, appropriate parameters in the upcoming 600 MHz incentive auction to ensure that smaller commercial mobile bidders have a legitimate opportunity to win valuable low-band spectrum to deliver and further innovate competitive wireless broadband services for the benefit of consumers; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the NASUCA Telecommunications Committee, with the approval of the Executive Committee of NASUCA, is authorized to develop specific positions and take appropriate actions, including but not limited to an ex parte filing at the FCC, or otherwise participate in FCC Docket WT 12-268 and 12-269, consistent with its considerations herein.



Approved by NASUCA:

Orlando, Florida

November 19, 2013

Submitted by:

NASUCA Telecommunications Committee: