In December, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a document that details what spectrum carriers use to transmit internet traffic.
In a nutshell, it shows the spectrum used by major carriers.
The FCC says that it wants to make sure everyone knows what the companies use to access internet.
And that includes spectrum used for broadband.
“The purpose of the proposed rulemaking is to help consumers make informed decisions about spectrum availability and use,” said FCC Chair Ajit Pai, in a statement.
“It is essential that we ensure that the government has the information necessary to accurately assess the costs and benefits of spectrum use.”
This year, the FCC is proposing a rule that would require spectrum carriers to tell consumers when they’re getting a certain type of service, and that they must give them a link to the actual network they’re using.
It would also require that all spectrum carriers tell the public if they’re going to upgrade their network.
This is one of the biggest changes in the telecommunications industry since the FCC’s Open Internet order.
“Broadband is a critical service for consumers, businesses and communities.
Spectrum spectrum is a crucial resource that provides affordable, reliable and high-quality internet service for everyone,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, an FCC commissioner, in the statement.
Rosenwourcel was responding to comments from Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam.
“When we think of broadband, we’re thinking about high-speed internet access and we don’t think of the spectrum that we need for that,” McAdam said in his comments.
Verizon Wireless has argued that the FCC shouldn’t force it to give customers a link if they don’t want to upgrade.
In fact, Verizon is already offering to upgrade customers for free if they pay for their own internet service.
Rosencieber said that Verizon’s plan could potentially have the same effect as forcing people to pay to access the internet.
“This is one area where Verizon could have a direct impact on consumers and businesses, but the reality is it doesn’t,” Rosencich said.
“Verizon could say that they’re not upgrading for free, but it would force people to do so and then it would require them to pay for that upgrade, which would increase their cost of doing business.”
The FCC is also considering requiring that spectrum carriers offer information about how much it costs them to use the spectrum, as well as the types of data they can access.
Rosenbuch says that’s the right approach, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
“For instance, if you get a bill for $300 a month, you don’t get an option to cancel that,” Rosenbucher said.
In addition, if the FCC wants to take away a customer’s right to upgrade, that would also take away their right to keep that service for a year, she said.
Rosenbrich says that if the Commission requires spectrum carriers that they give a link, it could also hurt their ability to negotiate with smaller wireless carriers, which are usually more aggressive.
“In the end, the more spectrum that is in service, the less competitive that the wireless industry is,” Rosenbruch said.
If the FCC decides to mandate this kind of transparency, it would be a good first step, Rosenbrach said.
But there’s more to it than just the information the FCC needs to know.
“If this is all done transparently, the next step is to require the carriers to explain what their costs are for this spectrum,” Rosenwurcel said.
The question is whether the FCC will follow through.
FCC Chairman Pai has made a number of comments on the issue, and he’s said that he wants to ensure that spectrum providers have the information they need to make informed choices about their networks.
“Consumers need to know the benefits and risks of their internet services,” Pai wrote in his statement.
“[T]he FCC must have the right to hold these spectrum companies accountable for their practices.”
He also said that it’s important for consumers to understand that the spectrum they’re receiving will ultimately be used for something other than “broadband.”
The Federal Communications Board will hold a public hearing on spectrum transparency on Feb. 23.