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OVERNIGHT TECH: FCC setting stage for spectrum auction

LEDE: The FCC is getting ready to set the stage for 2016's spectrum auction.

Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday circulated his proposed rules for the auction as well as reforms to a program that Dish used to get over $3 billion in discounts in the previous AWS-3 auction.

He also, as expected, recommended that the commission deny T-Mobile's request to expand the spectrum set aside for small carriers from 30 megahertz to 40. T-Mobile indicated in a statement that it is not likely to let up on their aggressive lobbying push until the votes are counted in mid-July.

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"Low band spectrum is the holy grail for AT&T and Verizon," said Andy Levin, T-Mobile's senior vice president for government affairs, in a statement.

"They know if we get our hands on it, they will finally have to compete with us on price. Their customers alone would save over $20 billion per year. That's why everyone with a phone has a stake in the outcome of this proceeding, and the FCC should heed the calls of DOJ, many in Congress and a slew of consumer groups and move to strengthen the reserve."

The big two wireless firms -- AT&T and Verizon -- were a little more quiet.

AT&T declined to comment. A Verizon spokesman directed The Hill to a blog post where the company said that spectrum "is too valuable a public resource to consumers and the U.S. economy for the FCC to set aside large amounts for select companies at cut-rate prices." 

O'RIELLY SAYS BROADBAND NO HUMAN RIGHT: During a speech in front of the Internet Innovation Alliance, Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly said access to the Internet is not a basic human right, or even a necessity in the day-to-day lives of Americans. 

"From a regulator's perspective, it is important to recognize the difference between a necessity or a human right and goods such as access to the Internet. Avoiding the use of such rhetorical traps is wise," he said during a speech about the role of regulators.  

SENATE PANEL APPROVES JSA BILL: The Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday approved a bill that would bar new FCC rules on media ownership from applying retroactively. The FCC's rules require companies to unwind previously negotiated Joint Sales Agreements, in which one TV station controls more than 15 percent of another station's advertising. A number of Democrats voted against the bill on a 10-6 vote. The House appropriations committee recently attached a rider to a bill to prevent the FCC from enforcing the rules. 

GOP COMMISSIONER CALLS ON FULL SENATE TO ACT: Commissioner Ajit Pai has called the rules "misguided." "Unfortunately, the FCC's new restrictions on JSAs have already caused some stations to go off the air and other stations to carry less local news," he said in a statement. "And that disturbing trend will only accelerate if scores of existing JSAs are terminated next year. I hope the full Senate and House correct the agency's error." 

POPULAR EMAIL PRIVACY BILLS STILL WAITING FOR ACTION: A bill aimed at increasing protections against government searches of email is the most popular bill in the House that has not been passed, according to its sponsors. The Email Privacy Act, which would require the government to obtain a warrant to search a person's old emails, has 281 cosponsors but has not received action. 

"Today, 281 of my colleagues--an overwhelming majority of the House of Representatives--are standing up to say that the government has no more business reading your personal email than it does reading your physical mail. The Email Privacy Act is an important bill that deserves a vote," said Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) one of the sponsors of the bill. 

FACEBOOK'S NEW DIVERSITY FIGURES ARE PRETTY MUCH THE SAME AS LAST YEAR'S: Hispanic employees still comprise just four percent of the social giant's workforce, while black employees make up just two percent, according to USA Today. Those figures are unchanged from last year. Men now make up 68 percent of the workforce, as opposed to 70 percent last year.

CYBERSECURITY FOR CONNECTED CARS HOT TOPIC AT HEARING: During a hearing on vehicle-to-vehicle communications in the Commerce Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce, several lawmakers said security should be a top priority for carmakers and regulators. "As with all network-connected products in this day and age, protecting personal information and ensuring that the appropriate safeguards are in place to guarantee vehicle security will be an essential part of fully realizing V2V [vehicle to vehicle] and its economic and public safety benefits," said subcommittee Chairman Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessAmericans have decided to give professionals a chance Six ways to visualize a divided America Capitol Police tribute turns political MORE (R-Texas).

ONE LESS BLANK SPACE IN APPLE MUSIC'S CATALOG: Taylor Swift announced that she will stream her album "1989" on Apple Music. Earlier this week, her criticism of the service's decision not to pay artists during a three-month free trial period caused Apple to change its tune. "This is simply the first time it's felt right in my gut to stream my album," she said.

ON TAP:

At 10:30 a.m., FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will give remarks on maximizing broadband benefits. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: 

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed stricter rules Thursday for a program that some say allows big companies to obtain discounts in wireless spectrum auctions that are meant for small businesses.

Charter Communications said Thursday it would abide by many new net neutrality rules as a term of its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler recommended on Thursday that the agency reject calls to expand the amount of wireless spectrum set aside for smaller carriers, like T-Mobile, in an upcoming auction.

The Senate Commerce Committee advanced a bill Thursday that would give Congress 30 legislative days to review a final transition plan for the government to hand over its oversight of the Internet domain name system. 

Two GOP 2016 presidential candidates introduced legislation Wednesday that would push the government to crack down on most forms of online gambling.

 

Please send tips and comments to David McCabe, dmccabe@thehill.comand Mario Trujillo,mtrujillo@thehill.com Follow us on Twitter:@HilliconValley, @dmccabe