OVERNIGHT TECH: Lawmakers to check on FCC's airwave auctions

THE LEDE: The House Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on Communications and Technology will examine the Federal Communications Commission’s efforts to auction TV stations' airwaves to cellular carriers at a hearing on Wednesday morning.

All five FCC commissioners are scheduled to testify.

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Congress authorized the FCC to conduct the auctions as part of a payroll tax cut extension bill earlier this year. The FCC is currently accepting comments on its proposal.

The purpose of the auctions is to free up more airwaves, called spectrum, for cellular carriers, which are struggling to keep pace with the booming data demands of smartphones and tablet computers. The bill also set aside some spectrum and funding for a nationwide broadband network for first-responders.

Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai will criticize the FCC's auction proposal, according to a copy of his prepared testimony. He is expected to express concern that the auctions will fail to raise enough revenue and that the FCC will pre-determine winners and losers.

"If the Commission starts picking and choosing who may participate in the forward auction — such as by setting a spectrum cap or narrowing the spectrum screen despite the robust competition in the wireless market — it will result in less participation, less revenue, less  spectrum available for mobile broadband, and less funding for public safety," he will say, according to the planned testimony.


Issa, Eshoo urge FCC to protect unlicensed spectrum:
Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Tuesday, urging him to set aside some reclaimed spectrum for unlicensed use.

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They said they support the FCC's auction proposal because it "recognizes that nationwide guard bands needed for interference protection can simultaneously provide unlicensed access, ensuring that every megahertz of spectrum is used efficiently."

They wrote that unlicensed spectrum provides critical services to consumers, such as WiFi, and that setting aside more unlicensed spectrum will allow for new technological innovations.

"As U.S. mobile data traffic continues to increase, we cannot afford to fall behind other nations in the race to deploy new and innovative unlicensed technologies," they wrote.

Google: Copyright removal requests spike to 2.5 million per week: Google announced Tuesday that the number of requests it receives each week to remove links to allegedly infringing websites in its search results has grown ten-fold over the past six months.

The number of copyright removal requests sent to Google has risen to more than 2.5 million per week from 250,000 in six months, Google Legal Director Fred von Lohmann said in a company blog post.

Apple, Samsung, RIM push Congress for more airwaves: A coalition of technology companies sent a letter to key lawmakers on Tuesday, calling for Congress to provide more airwaves for smartphones and tablet computers.

The letter was signed by Alcatel-Lucent, Apple, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research In Motion and Samsung.

McCaskill threatens legislation on airplane electronic device rules:
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Tuesday to relax its rules for electronic device use on airplanes or face legislation from her forcing it to do so.

The FAA said earlier this year that it was reviewing its policies regarding electronic devices, which have come under fire from both airline passengers and electronic manufacturers in recent years.

Lautenberg urges FCC to reconsider plan to ease media ownership rules: Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) is urging the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider its proposal to relax media ownership regulations.

In a letter sent on Monday to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Lautenberg, a frequent critic of News Corp. and its owner, Rupert Murdoch, expressed concern that the proposal would benefit major media companies but hurt local news coverage.

Issa demands briefing from FTC as decision looms in Google case:
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is concerned that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will try to step beyond its legal power to regulate anti-competitive business practices.

In a letter sent on Monday to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, Issa demanded a staff briefing by Dec. 21 to discuss how the FTC views its power under Section 5 of the FTC Act.

White House won't back proposals to regulate Internet in UN treaty talks: White House officials warned on Tuesday that the United States would not support a United Nations treaty that gives governments more control over the Internet.

Administration officials argued in a blog post that the World Conference on International Telecommunications taking place in Dubai "should be about updating a public telecommunications treaty to reflect today's market-based realities — not a new venue to create regulations on the Internet, private networks, or the data flowing across them." 


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