Tuesday, January 4, 2011

FCC Schedules Public Safety & Data Innovation Items for January 25 Meeting

No Comcast-NBC Vote Scheduled, No Return of The Woz Expected 01/04/2011 San Francisco - The Federal Communications Commission has scheduled 2 items for its next Open Meeting of January 25, neither of which will be nearly as controversial or as exciting (the most wonkish among us excepted), as the Commission's December 21 meeting on focused on network neutrality. 
Return engagement not expected: Apple co-founder
Steve Wozniak interviewed at the December 21 Open Meeting.

Missing from the schedule of the January meeting is any reference to FCC action on the pending merger between leading cable MSO Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and the NBC Universal unit of General Electric's (NYSE: GE). Under FCC rules a Commission vote must be announced 3 weeks prior to its placement on an open meeting agenda.   

While the December meeting was arguably the most controversial and critical in decades, the January meeting will see the Commission moving back into the many detail level rulemakings required to implement parts of the National Broadband Plan. In the aggregate, the agency's implementation proceedings triggered by the Plan will have a lasting impact on the American tech economy of greater significance than the Open Internet rulemaking itself.

It is doubtful many Commission meetings going forward will attract the media attention or presence of real life digerati like The Woz, as did the December 21 hearing. 

Public safety will be first up as Commissioners put to a vote a new  initiative described as the "Interoperability Order and FNPRM: An Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to ensure that the public safety broadband network is interoperable nationwide."  Several recent Commission items demonstrate continued work on the Plan's Chapter 16: Public Safety section

"Comprehensive Reform"......Still Lacking
Additionally, Commission staff has informed the media that FCC will review a presentation "on the status of the comprehensive reform efforts to improve the agency’s fact-based, data-driven decision-making." Best seen in the evolution of the Commission's data section of its emerging new web presence, the data initiative is an effort to make the mountains of information collected by the agency more accessible to the public.  

While doing so, Commission Julius Genachowski has continued his use of legacy Commission practices which clearly lack the level of public transparency called for by the man that appointed him, President Obama. The National Broadband Plan's Chapter 15: Civic Engagement calls for a variety lofty transparency goals that remain at odds with the ongoing use of several Commission rules by the Chairman. 

Most prominent among these is the arcane procedural rule which allows the chair to keep fully secret from the public drafts of Commission orders as they are being redrafted by staff working in consultation with the five Commissioners. This publication's effort, which remains unsuccessful to date, to win the release of the Chairman's first draft of the recent Open Internet Order is the most prominent recent case in point. 

Notice of the January Open Meeting was posted at the FCC main site this afternoon Washington time.
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