FCCs Powell Outlines Comm Agenda
FCC Chairman Michael Powell on Tuesday outlined a broad agenda for communications services and competition in light of the faltering economy and government-wide "homeland security" efforts.In a long-awaited briefing with the press, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell on Tuesday outlined a broad agenda for communications services and competition in light of the faltering economy and government-wide "homeland security" efforts. Powell set forth far-reaching goals regarding broadband deployment, local competition, spectrum allocation, media regulation and homeland security, while offering few details on planned courses of action. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 have given numerous regulatory and legislative bodies impetus to move aggressively on long-standing policy questions left undecided because of their complexity, controversy or lack of clear objectives. In the case of communications, Powell said the FCC will examine ways to make the countrys infrastructure more secure and improve the ability of public safety agencies to respond to emergencies.
For several years, public safety wireless users have sought regulations to guarantee them priority access on the airwaves during crises, but commercial wireless licensees have fought the initiative. Wireless operators argue that their subscribers should not be barred from the network during emergencies, because they too use the airwaves for safety purposes. With a continued threat of terrorism at the forefront of policymakers agenda, however, it has become difficult for commercial interests to argue against public safety requests.