October 1, 2015 - 3:13 pm
By Tom Wheeler | FCC Chairman

One of the Commission’s biggest challenges is to make sure our rules and policies evolve to reflect major changes in the communications and technology landscape. Two of the biggest developments of the digital age are that the economy has gone global and everything is going mobile. Today, I’m circulating two items to boost U.S. competitiveness in our global economy by removing barriers to private investment and unleashing mobile innovation.

Few sectors of our economy hold more promise for economic growth, job creation and U.S. leadership than mobile communications. The mobile apps economy is a “made-in-the-USA” phenomenon that has already created more than 750,000 U.S. jobs. More than 99 percent of smartphones worldwide run U.S. operating systems, up from about 20 percent in 2009. And one of the biggest edges for the U.S. is that we were the first to deploy LTE wireless networks at scale, making America the test bed for early 4G innovation. Roughly half of American mobile subscribers had 4G connections at the end of 2014, compared to 13 percent of subscribers in Europe and 10 percent in Asia.

To maintain our leadership position, we need to continue looking to the future and act now to facilitate the next generation – the fifth generation – of mobile technology. The fifth generation of mobile networks could leverage both low-band and high-band spectrum to provide significantly greater wireless broadband speeds for consumers.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking I am circulating today is an important step toward creating an environment for this next generation of wireless to develop, take hold, and explode across the United States.

This NPRM proposes a framework for flexible spectrum use rules for bands above 24 GHz, including for mobile broadband use. Promoting flexible, dynamic spectrum use has been the bedrock that has helped the United States become a world leader in wireless.

We are leveraging regulatory advances and propose to use market-based mechanisms that will allow licensees to provide any service – fixed, mobile, private, commercial, and satellite – depending on the band, and allow unlicensed uses to continue to expand. We are proposing to create a space that leverages the properties of this high band spectrum to simultaneously meet the needs of different users.

At the upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference, one of the agenda items will set the bands to be studied for the future WRC-19. The bands we propose in this NPRM are consistent with the U.S. position, and we are committed to working with both domestic and international partners on developing rules for these bands and on conducting technical sharing and compatibility studies.
We are not only thinking globally to ensure that we can export U.S. innovation, we want to make sure U.S. markets have clear rules of the road for foreign investment.

Thanks to the leadership and thoughtful plan suggested by Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, the second item being circulated today is a proposal that builds on the 2013 Broadcast Clarification Order by modernizing the processes for broadcasters to demonstrate compliance with foreign ownership rules. In particular, the NPRM seeks comment on simplifying the foreign ownership approval process for broadcast licensees by extending the rules and procedures that currently apply to other classes of licensees to broadcast licensees.

As a result, the proposed rules will update the filing and review process – all so it is better adapted to the current business environment – while at the same time preserving the Commission’s case-by-case public interest review and national security protections.

Collectively, these actions will unleash innovation and investment and help promote continued U.S. leadership in our global economy.