Tag: FCC

Keep the Internet Open for Business

The internet has helped drive manufacturing growth over the last two decades. The NAM witnessed this first-hand just last week at the International Consumer Electronics Show. The innovative ways manufacturers are using internet-based technology was the dominant theme found throughout the more than two million square feet of exhibit space. It was also made very clear by these same manufacturers that any unnecessary regulation of the internet may severely stifle this innovation.

We were pleased to see the D.C. Circuit agree yesterday when it decided that 20th century regulations should not be applied to the internet. NAM member companies have leveraged the internet to grow their business, their product and service offerings, to communicate with their customers and employees, and to revolutionize their shop floors.

For this growth to continue the internet needs to stay open for business and therefore the laws currently governing this space need to be updated. The Court’s decision affirms that telecommunication laws need to be brought into the 21st century in order to foster more innovation in the manufacturing industry. The NAM looks forward to working with Congress as they consider how to modernize our legal and regulatory system to reflect today’s technologies and the way that manufacturers use the internet.

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NAM Tells FCC Not to Harm GPS

As part of its consideration on whether to allow a company called LightSquared to launch a wireless communications network, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created a “Technical Working Group” to determine how the network would impact Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and related applications.

The results of the working group recently came in and they found that the LightSquared network will cause significant interference to the signals used by GPS. This is no surprise to NAM members who have been following this issue.

Manufacturers leverage GPS technology for a variety of uses from precision agriculture to inventory tracking and cannot afford the service being compromised. As part of our effort to ensure the business of manufacturers is not adversely impacted, the NAM sent a letter to the FCC urging them that no network should be deployed that harms the GPS devices or applications. 

The NAM remains committed to deploying wireless broadband technology across the country but not at the expense of GPS technology critical to manufacturers.  

Brian Raymond is director of technology and domestic economic policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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AT&T and T-Mobile: Sign of Growing Confidence in the Economy

Marketplace Morning Report’s Chris Farrell is excited about AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile for what it means for the U.S. economy. From “The positive side of the AT&T-T-Mobile merger“:

CEOs for the past couple of years have been scared. They’ve been in a survival mode. Well, they’re now leaving the bunker. They’re willing to take a risk; they’re going to buy a business, they’re going to expand. And so, the famous phrase of John Maynard Keynes: Animal spirits of capitalism, at least in the executive suite, are being unleashed.

Extra points to Farrell for invoking Schumpeter’s “creative destruction”: “I think we’re seeing more growth, I think we’re seeing more opportunity. So overall, job creation. But if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, job losses.”

The Hill also blogs today on the predictable opposition for reactionary “consumer groups,” with a good response from AT&T. From “Groups say AT&T merger is job killer“:

“We have a metric that every billion dollars results in 7,000 new jobs, so I think that’s bringing new jobs to the economy, bringing new jobs to the country, extending a critical infrastructure to the country, and I think it’s good for the overall economy,” AT&T executive Ralph de la Vega said in a CNBC interview on Tuesday.

“We have said we are going to invest an additional $8 billion — $8 billion — in infrastructure to facilitate us making this merger work and extending LTE to 95 percent of the population,” he said.

Block efficiency, innovation and investment, and jobs will wither away.

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Darn. Left? Left? Or Take a Right? My GPS Just Stopped Working

So we were reading the latest GPS World Magazine and thought the article, “Act Now to Protect GPS Signal” did a nice job describing the problems industries have with a proposal to develop a cell phone/broadband service that could disrupt GPS. The website has a short and clear report, as well:

Threat to GPS. You may be following the very serious interference issue that threatens the GPS signal. LightSquared is developing high wireless bandwidth capabilities (4G-LTE) for wireless operators. LightSquared received an unnervingly fast-tracked FCC conditional waiver that permits it to broadcast a new terrestrial broadband service from 1,500-watt terrestrial transmitters. This will be in the portion of the L Band that is immediately adjacent to the band used by GPS. The FCC waiver was required as LightSquared’s FCC license only extended to dual-mode phones, but LightSquared wants to offer the option of terrestrial-only, hence the waiver. According to industry experts, the LightSquared terrestrial broadband signal is about 1 billion times the received power of the GPS signal on Earth. This may result in wide-scale GPS interference and jamming worldwide. As a result of ensuing uproar, a working group conducted by LightSquared and the U.S. GPS Industry Council was formed to study the issue.

The National Association of Manufacturers is one of the founding members of the Coalition to Save Our GPS announced earlier this month. Today the coalition announced its new members, representing major industries. From “UPS, TomTom, the American Car Rental Association, Four Key Aviation Groups and Others Sign on to Expanding Coalition Amid Fears of GPS Interference“:

New members representing a variety of concerned industries including aviation, transportation, technology, shipping, and consumer manufacturers are concerned about a serious threat to the Global Positioning System (GPS) – a national utility upon which millions of Americans rely every day.” GPS now provides smaller airports with equivalent levels of safety to those serving large commercial airlines,” said National Business Aviation Association Senior Vice President for Operations and Administration, Steve Brown. “But unlike carrier airports there are no alternate sources of landing guidance if the GPS experiences interference of any kind. The continued protection of satellite navigation is imperative to safety of flight.”

Meanwhile, LightSquared is moving forward on the business front.

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Keep the Economy Moving in the Right Direction, Save GPS

The National Association of Manufacturers is one of the founding members of the Coalition to Save Our GPS, a new group dedicated to ensuring the reach and effectiveness of the Global Positioning System.

From the news release,”‘Coalition to Save Our GPS’ Launched,”

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Representatives from a wide variety of industries and companies announced today that they have joined together to form the “Coalition to Save Our GPS” to resolve a serious threat to the Global Positioning System (GPS) – a national utility upon which millions of Americans rely every day.

The threat stems from a recent highly unusual decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to grant a conditional waiver allowing the dramatic expansion of terrestrial use of the satellite spectrum immediately neighboring that of GPS, potentially causing severe interference to millions of GPS receivers. The conditional waiver was granted to a company called LightSquared.

A representative of one of the founding members of the coalition, Trimble Vice President and General Counsel Jim Kirkland, will testify on this issue on Friday, March 11 before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science of the House Appropriations Committee.

“GPS is essential to Americans every day – it’s in our cars, the airplanes in which we fly and the ambulances, police cars and fire trucks that help keep us safe. It’s also used in many industrial applications and even synchronizes our wireless, computer and utility networks,” the group said in a statement.  ”LightSquared’s plans to build up to 40,000 ground stations transmitting radio signals one billion times more powerful than GPS signals as received on earth  could mean 40,000 ‘dead spots’ – each miles in diameter – disrupting the vitally important services GPS provides.” (continue reading…)

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An Unconstitutional Power Grab that Will Kill Millions of Jobs

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity, take on the Imperial EPA in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “How Congress Can Stop the EPA’s Power Grab“:

On Jan. 2, the Environmental Protection Agency will officially begin regulating the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. This move represents an unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs—unless Congress steps in.

The gist …

The best solution is for Congress to overturn the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas regulations outright. If Democrats refuse to join Republicans in doing so, then they should at least join a sensible bipartisan compromise to mandate that the EPA delay its regulations until the courts complete their examination of the agency’s endangerment finding and proposed rules.

Like the plaintiffs, we have significant doubt that EPA regulations can survive judicial scrutiny. And the worst of all possible outcomes would be the EPA initiating a regulatory regime that is then struck down by the courts.

The National Association of Manufacturers is actively challenging the EPA’s attempt to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and especially its targeting of specific emitters — power plants and refineries — for which the agency has no statutory authority. A summary of the NAM’s active court proceedings is here.

See also Hugh Hewitt’s blog, “Obama’s EPA and the 2012 Elections.”

The EPA is just one of the Executive Branch agencies attempting to replace Congress as the policymaking branch of government, a power grab that threatens the economy and the U.S. separation of powers. Conn Carroll at the Heritage Foundation reports on other, more recent examples of the aggressive regulatory state in “Big Government Strikes Back,” citing the HHS’s plan to impose federal price controls on health insurance and the FCC’s “net neutrality” rules.

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A Review of a Very Busy Week for Manufacturers in Congress, Executive Branch

Catching up with last week’s blizzard of legislative action and regulatory excess…

On Thursday, Dec. 23, the Environmental Protection Agency circumvented the policymaking branch of government, the U.S. Congress, and announced its plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from such sources as coal-fired power plants and refineries. In a statement, Jay Timmons, executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said, “Today’s announcements demonstrate the EPA’s commitment to move forward with an overreaching agenda that will only raise energy costs and hurt manufacturers’ ability to grow, create jobs and compete in the global marketplace.” 

As its final legislative action before adjourning, the House on Wednesday, Dec. 22, agreed to the Senate’s stripped-down version of H.R. 6517, the Omnibus Trade Act. With removal of the critical Miscellaneous Trade Benefits language, the bill is more minibus: It extends for six weeks Andean Trade Preferences Act benefits for Colombia — well-deserved — and for Ecuador, now governed by the leftist government of Rafael Correa, which has attacked the rule of law and violated its treaty obligations. The bill also extends Trade Adjustment Assistance authority for retraining programs for workers affected by trade. The incoming Ways & Means chairman, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), commented, “I would rather have passed a longer-term extension of ATPA and TAA, and unfortunately, the other provisions of the House bill died in the Senate.  I look forward to working in the next Congress on additional trade legislation, including enacting the trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea, and Panama.” 

Also on Wednesday, the House approved the Senate-amended version of H.R. 847, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, by a vote of 206-60, with 168 members not voting. The earlier House bill had a pricetag of $7.4 billion; thanks largely to the doughtiness of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the total cost has been reduced to $4.2 billion with stronger oversight provisions included and a cap imposed on trial lawyer fees. (Coburn news release.) The compromise language replaces the House’s early funding mechanism, a tax on multinational companies that do business in the United States. Instead, the law charges  “a 2 percent excise fee on foreign manufacturers/companies located in countries where the U.S. does not have an international procurement agreement receiving government disbursements made under future procurement agreements.  In addition, the bill would extend fees on H-1B and L-1 visas until 2015.” (Senate GOP release.) 

The Senate confirmed federal judges, but did not act on two controversial nominees to U.S. District Court of interest to manufacturers: John “Jack” McConnell, the Rhode Island trial lawyer who masterminded the state’s litigation against paint manufacturers, and former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler, Jr., who helped strike down the state’s limits on medical liability and promoted the scheme of “market share liability” for paint manufacturers. 

On Tuesday, Dec. 21, the House of Representatives agreed to the Senate amendments to the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act as contained in H.R. 2751, and the bill now goes to President Obama for his signature. The NAM supported the bill. For more, see Food Manufacturing’s report, “What The Food Safety Modernization Act Means To You.”  (continue reading…)

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FCC Net Neutrality Vote is Concerning

Manufacturers know that the future of their industry and their ability to compete in a global marketplace is tied closely to the deployment of new broadband lines and high-speed wireless data services across the United States and we need an environment that encourages innovation and investment in these critical areas.  That’s why manufacturers are concerned that the rules approved today by the Federal Communications Commission could inject more uncertainty into broadband policy and have a chilling impact on investment.

NAM members strongly agree with the statement by Commissioner Baker that “Preserving the open Internet is non-negotiable; it is a bedrock principle shared by all in the Internet economy, a building block on which we can all agree.”  

We also share Commissioner Baker’s concern about intervening “in the one sector of the economy that is working so well to create high-paying jobs, untold consumer choice, and entrepreneurial opportunity.”

As we’ve said many times before, Congress, not the regulators, needs to step in and adopt a comprehensive broadband policy aimed at the deployment of services, open access and smart resource allocation , including policies that:

  • Remove barriers to entry that prevent broadband providers from offering high-speed information services to homes and businesses;
  • Balance the need for regulations against the potential to dampen private industry’s incentive to invest in broadband technology;
  • Encourage federal and state regulators to monitor the rollout of broadband services;
  • Support a federal framework to ensure fair, technology-neutral competition for all providers; and
  • Allow for the continued public/private collaboration to improve the security of the network through incentive-based legislative and regulatory tools.
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Internet Regulation is a Policy Decision that Congress Should Make

Manufacturers appreciate efforts at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to bring closure to the debate over regulating the Internet. Providing certainty in this area will encourage the deployment of new broadband services and the jobs that go with them. But  comments today by FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski and his plan for the Commission to adopt a Net Neutrality Order at its December 21st Open Meeting just create more uncertainty. We share the views of Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker that the decision of “whether the Internet should be regulated is a decision best left to the directly elected representatives of the American people.”

Ensuring the deployment of new broadband lines and high-speed wireless data services is critical to manufacturers across the nation – these are the companies that can create the jobs we need to strengthen our economy. In the end, Congress needs to step in and adopt a comprehensive broadband policy, and it should be aimed at the deployment of services, open access and smart resource allocation, including policies that:

  • Remove barriers to entry that prevent broadband providers from offering high-speed information services to homes and businesses;
  • Balance the need for regulations against the potential to dampen private industry’s incentive to invest in broadband technology;
  • Encourage federal and state regulators to monitor the rollout of broadband services;
  • Support a federal framework to ensure fair, technology-neutral competition for all providers; and
  • Allow for the continued public/private collaboration to improve the security of the network through incentive-based legislative and regulatory tools.

In the words of Commissioner Baker, “We all believe in an open Internet.  It is open today, it is fast moving, and it serves as a vibrant growth engine for our economy and job creation.  Let’s not rush to undermine it.”

Dorothy Coleman is vice president of tax and domestic economic policy for the National Association of Manufacturers.

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The Broadband Rubicon

When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 AD with his legions in tow, defying the Senates’ prohibitions on generals entering Italy proper with their troops, he uttered the famous words “the die is cast” (alea iacta est, to be specific).  Caesar being Caesar, he probably did so through gritted teeth, his sword to his breast, with his flinty stare focused firmly on the Capitoline Hill.

Two thousand years later a different die was cast, by another Julius with his eye on another Capitol Hill crossing his own Rubicon, and defying the will of another Senate.  At today’s Open FCC Meeting, Chairman Julius Genachowski led the Commission in voting in favor of moving forward with opening a proceeding that will inevitably redefine how the FCC regulates broadband services by imposing common carrier rules to the Internet.

Of course, what’s at stake with the roll of today’s die is a bit different from Caesar’s toss: with Old Julius, it was only the fate of Roman Empire.  Today’s stakes are far bigger – the fate of the nation’s information structure.  Why is this bigger you ask?  Let’s put it this way: the manufacturers who build the networks, the manufacturers who own the networks, the manufacturers who rely on new networks being built, could all see up to $62 billion in broadband investment dry up, costing over half-a million jobs.

According to a study released by New York Law School, the report estimates that if New Julius’s “Third Way” broadband plan is instituted, broadband providers and related industries may cut their investments by 10 percent to 30 percent from 2010 to 2015 in response to additional regulation. At 30 percent, the economy might sustain an $80 billion hit, according to Charles Davidson, director of the law school’s Advanced Communications Law & Policy Institute, which released the report on June 16.

What about the pesky Senate?  New Julius is facing his own dilemma as 282 Members of Congress, including 77 Democrats demanded the FCC leave its troops at the banks of the…er…drop its plan to reclassify broadband and allow Congress to do what it was elected to do. But, hey, Congress knew about the National Broadband Plan, and that was blessed by the President. Who we hear was elected by lots of people, too.

Unless Congress decides to defund the FCC, there will be a pretty quick process in which rounds of comments, reply comments, notices of proposed rules, and more comments are flitted through in less than six months.  In fact, the first round of comments are due July 15, reply comments due August 12. And again, unless Congress defunds the FCC, it’s highly probable that New Julius will get his way, only to find that the litigious Visigoths of industry will be banging down the doors of the Commission.

How is this going to end?  Hopefully better for New Julius than it did for Old Julius.  We’d be happy if he just crossed back over the Potomac and dropped his cockamamie plan over the Memorial Bridge.

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