FCC Chair Calls AT&T Staff Report 'Strong, Fact-Based'

Said FCC is always addressing issues on which parties disagree, but its job was to focus on the facts
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FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Tuesday defended the FCC staff report that concluded the proposed $39 billion AT&T-T-Mobile merger was not in the public interest.

In a press conference following the FCC's December public meeting about AT&T's charicterization of the report as an "unsupported piece of advocacy work," Genachowski laughed, and said it was "strong, fact-based work" based on a record of "thousands and thousands" of pages of submissions from various parties and many meetings. "The staff did excellent work," he said. The chairman said the FCC is always addressing issues on which parties disagree, but its job was to focus on the facts and "make its best judgment about what meets our statutory objectives..."

He did not comment on why the FCC lowered the so-called spectrum screen -- the amount of a merger's resulting spectrum consolidation in a geographic market that triggers further review -- for the AT&T deal. But he did say all the staffs work was based on the facts and FCC procedures. "We did our work consistent with the statute to focus on facts and run a fair process."

The chairman did not comment on the leak of some of the LightSquared GPS testing data that the National Telecommunications & Information Administration was collecting to make recommendations to the FCC. LightSquared is the company whose conditional FCC approval to deliver a wholesale wireless broadband net is on hold until GPS interference issues are resolved.

He said the FCC's focus is on the engineering and facts of the service, and that LightSquared won't be allowed to proceed until interference and safety issues are addressed. He said he was still awaiting NTIA's recommendation. That won't be coming until sometime next year, an NTIA source indicates, since they have not yet begun the second round of testing on high-precision GPS receivers -- testing on consumer GPS devices and cell-phones was turned over to NTIA Nov. 30.

The chairman said the FCC would continue to focus its energies on broadband. "We have refocused the agency on broadband, wired and wireless," he said, saying that the National Broadband Plan continued to be the framework for FCC efforts.

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