A Proposal for Spurring New Technologies and Communications Services

We propose that the FCC rely, more so than in the past, on Section 7 (47 U.S.C. §157) of the Communications Act to spur the development and implementation of new technologies and services. By doing so, the Commission would contribute to furthering the nation’s competitiveness, economic growth, job creation, and social well-being. Section 7, titled “New Technologies and Services,” was added to the Communications Act in 1983. The section provides in its entirety as follows:

(a) It shall be the policy of the United States to encourage the provision of new technologies and services to the public. Any person or party (other than the Commission) who opposes a new technology or service proposed to be permitted under this chapter shall have the burden to demonstrate that such proposal is inconsistent with the public interest.

(b) The Commission shall determine whether any new technology or service proposed in a petition or application is in the public interest within one year after such petition or application is filed. If the Commission initiates its own proceeding for a new technology or service, such proceeding shall be completed within 12 months after it is initiated.

Note the following key features of Section 7: First, it applies both to new technologies and services. Second, a party opposed to a new technology or service bears the burden of demonstrating it is inconsistent with the public interest. Third, the Commission must act in a timely manner (if one year is considered timely in today’s technologically dynamic environment!), regardless of whether the agency is considering a petition or application proposing a new service or technology or whether the Commission initiates a proceeding on its own.

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