The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court, issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
The FCC released the final agenda for its next open meeting scheduled for Thursday, December 12, 2013. The meeting is scheduled to commence at 2:30 p.m. so that the Commissioners can appear at House Communications and Technology Subcommittee FCC Oversight hearing in the morning. Live audio/video coverage of the meeting will be available from the FCC’s website at www.fcc.gov/live.
The agenda is as follows:
- Improving 911 Reliability: The FCC will consider a Report and Order that takes critical steps to improve the reliability and resiliency of 911 networks nationwide.
- Expanding Access to Mobile Wireless Services Onboard Aircraft: The FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise outdated rules and provide airlines with the ability to permit passengers to use mobile wireless services via onboard airborne access systems.
- Technology Transitions Policy Task Force Presentation: The FCC will receive a status update on the Task Force’s work towards making near-term recommendations related to the FCC’s expectations and role in the IP transition.
- Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Presentation: The FCC will receive an update on FCC and industry efforts to promote mobile wireless device unlocking.
As reported previously, The Regulatory Mix November 22, 2013, and November 26, 2013, the FCC has not been shy about responding to public concern over the potential use of cell phones on airplanes. In a recent blog posting, Julie Knapp, chief of the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology, and Roger Sherman, acting chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau tried to emphasis the limited nature of the FCC’s rulemaking. “As the expert agency on communications, it is the FCC’s role to re-examine our rules in light of new technology and to eliminate unnecessary regulations when appropriate. Under the proposal, which will be put out for public comment, the default will still be (and in fact will more clearly be) that the use of mobile wireless services is prohibited, absent specialized onboard equipment. If the new technology isn’t installed, the prohibition remains. If the new technology is installed, airlines would still have the ultimate say on whether and how to provide service – including the ability to program the system not to handle voice calls (while allowing text, email, and web browsing). In addition, systems can also be turned off if necessary for safety announcements and emergencies.”
They emphasize that the FCC is not proposing to mandate that cell phone use be permitted aboard aircraft and that it is not within the FCC’s jurisdiction to set rules governing concerns about passenger behavior aboard aircraft. “That role is properly left to the FAA and the airlines after consultation with their customers.”
Chairman Wheeler made similar points in a December 2, 2013 Letter to Senator Mark Begich, who had expressed concerns about in-flight safety.