FCC Chairman Promises To Use Section 7 To Spur Innovation

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Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, has now publicly promised to fully implement "Section 7" of the Communications Act in the commission's future evaluations of technology and services. Section 7 refers to a rule within the Act that would allow the FCC to make better determinations about which applications or petitions to approve. It effectively allows the commission to make determinations based on whether any new service or technology can be put into real world use that serves the public interest and does so within a year after the petition or application is filed. If Pai is correct about how the rule will affect the industry, Section 7 could streamline the process for innovations that are can be completed more quickly, over technologies and services that will take longer to be of service to the public.

Yet another reason Pai cited in yesterday's public address – alongside the overall streamlining of processes allowed by Section 7 – is that the move will allow more spectrum, in general, to be freed up. More specifically, as part of the FCC's 'Spectrum Frontiers' proceeding, the chairman said that non-traditional frequencies such as those above the 95GHz range could then be freed up to serve as a "testbed." He went on to say that it would then be up to the "innovators" to figure out how to best make us of it. Since implementing the rule would also potentially free up much of the unlicensed spectrum for commercial use, Pai's promise is also likely to have more direct implications for the future of mobile networking as well – in particular for the enhanced 4G LTE networks that are being set up as the backbone for 5G. In fact, Pai addressed 5G specifically, promising to continue efforts to release even more spectrum for the incoming advanced mobile networks to operate on.

Several of Pai's statements since being appointed as chairman have been more controversial. However, it is likely that carriers  – as well as creators and innovators in the IoT space – will applaud the FCC's latest efforts to cement the U.S. as a world communications leader. While there is still plenty of worry over the state of net neutrality, Pai's light-touch approach may end up cutting away just enough red tape to create rapid growth within several of the industry's most promising sectors.

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