The Wireless Broadband Access Task Force (Task Force) was established in May 2004 to assist the Federal Communications Commission in identifying and recommending possible changes in Commission policies that could facilitate the rapid deployment of wireless broadband services in the United States.
Chairman Powell asked the Task Force to study existing terrestrial wireless broadband policies involving both licensed and unlicensed wireless broadband services and to make recommendations for possible improvements that would promote the growth of these services. To assist with its review, the Task Force actively solicited public input in numerous ways and conducts various outreach activities.
The Task Force is comprised of a team of multi-disciplinary Commission staff, from across several Bureaus and Offices that work on matters relating to both licensed and unlicensed wireless broadband services. In looking at ways the Commission could help in making wireless broadband] technologies available, the Task Force actively sought the experience, expertise, and advice of consumers, state and local governments, industry (such as equipment manufacturers and service providers), and other stakeholders across the nation.
On May 5, 2004, the Task Force released a Public Notice seeking comment on several issues that would help it to develop recommendations to the Commission. The issues on which the Task Force sought comment included: the extent and nature of deployment of wireless broadband services, including the types of applications currently associated with wireless broadband; additional steps the Commission might take to improve access to spectrum capable of allowing wireless broadband; and possible regulatory changes that would facilitate the deployment of wireless broadband services in both rural and urban areas.
The Task Force has conducted several outreach efforts. On May 19, 2004, the Commission's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Office of Engineering & Technology held a forum on wireless broadband (the "Wireless Broadband Forum"). The forum examined the technological, economic, and regulatory factors that influence the availability and deployment of wireless broadband services. The event provided an opportunity for business, technology, and regulatory experts to share their knowledge, experiences, and views on the future of the wireless broadband industry. Twenty-two speakers participated, including representatives of both fixed and mobile service providers and of manufacturers developing new technologies used in both licensed and unlicensed bands. Four panels examined, respectively, issues relating to wireless broadband technologies, business strategies, barriers to entry in the market, and the future of wireless broadband.
In addition, the Task Force conducted several field studies during the spring and summer of 2004 to examine various wireless broadband deployment efforts underway around the country. Through these efforts, the Task Force learned about innovative wireless broadband technologies being used and developed, examined the level of availability of wireless broadband services, and heard the concerns of those involved in the front lines of these developments.
The Task Force also established a webpage and [email@example.com e-mail box] dedicated to providing useful information to the public regarding both licensed and unlicensed wireless broadband services. Launched in May 2004, the website serves as a single location for information on issues relating to wireless broadband, and the e-mail box facilitates communication between WISPs and Commission staff involved with wireless broadband issues and provides WISPs with an additional contact and information resource to address issues relating to deployment of wireless broadband services.
The Task Force received comments from over thirty parties in response to the Public Notice. These comments were submitted by numerous interested parties, including: manufacturers of both licensed and unlicensed wireless broadband technologies; organizations that develop network standards employed in providing wireless broadband; representatives and associations of service providers using both licensed spectrum and unlicensed devices; associations representing rural telecommunications providers; representatives of public safety organizations; representatives of public television; representatives of airports; educational institutions; academics; and economists. The Task Force also conducted its own research — through review of articles, journals, reports, news releases, and websites, among other sources — to develop a clearer picture of the current state and future potential of wireless broadband.
In February 2005, the Task Force published its report to the Commission on its findings and recommendations with regard to the Commission's wireless broadband policies. The report is titled Connected On the Go: Broadband Goes Wireless.
- See FCC, "FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell Announces Formation of Wireless Broadband Access Task Force," Press Release (May 5, 2004).
- See "Wireless Broadband Access Task Force Seeks Public Comment on Issues Related to Commission’s Wireless Broadband Policies," GN Docket No. 04-163, Public Notice, 19 FCC Rcd 8166 (DA 04-1266) (2004).
- Id. at 2-4.
- See Appendix B (list of speakers at the Wireless Broadband Forum); Transcript of Wireless Broadband Forum (full-text); see also "FCC Announces Wireless Broadband Forum to be Held on May 19, 2004," Public Notice, 19 FCC Rcd 8091 (DA 04-1239) (2004). More information on the forum is posted on the Commission's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau webpage.
- These field studies – in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA, Rapid City, SD, New York, NY, Jacksonville, FL, and Raleigh, NC — allowed Task Force members to meet with representatives from companies and organizations involved in innovative wireless broadband deployments. Members witnessed live demonstrations of new technologies, learned about issues being addressed and problems being solved by these technologies, and gained insight on how regulatory issues may affect current or future service rollouts in both urban and rural areas.
- See generally the Task Force website. For instance, the website includes links to relevant Commission proceedings, speeches and presentations, and public workshops and conferences, and it provides detailed information on how interested parties can participate in Commission proceedings. The e-mail box is checked on a regular basis and questions and/or comments are directed to appropriate Commission staff for a timely response.