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Verizon Public Policy
Verizon's Internet Technology and Telecom Policy Team
Verizon's Internet Technology and Telecom Policy Team

Verizon Public Policy's posts

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Can you spot the small cell? Read about the lessons we learned from #SB50 about how communities can help facilitate mobile broadband deployment.

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Dig Once: An easy, common-sense way to boost broadband deployment

Verizon’s track record for investing in broadband deployment is well established.  And whether for wireline or wireless, such deployment is often capital-intensive.  A number of companies are looking for different ways of connecting those consumers who aren’t yet online, and policymakers are looking for ways to ease and encourage further investment and deployment. Today, for example, Rep. Anna Eshoo, with co-sponsor Rep. Greg Walden, re-introduced the Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2015, a.k.a. the “Dig Once” bill.

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FCC makes the right move on prison calling rates

Today, the FCC came to the aid of millions of families struggling to maintain contact with incarcerated loved ones.

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Another step toward 5G

If you’ve been following the news lately in the mobile communications space, then you can’t help but sense that we’re on the cusp of another wave of real disruptive innovation for consumers and our industry, what with all the activity around the Internet of Things, new uses for unlicensed spectrum, and new mobile broadband services for video. Key contributors to encouraging the evolution of the broadband marketplace are public policies that allow innovators to look ahead and envision a world with ubiquitous broadband connectivity and the potential applications for the technology. Today the FCC took another step toward actualizing such policies with its adoption of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will look at making spectrum frequencies above 24 GHz available for next-generation (5G) mobile broadband. U.S. leadership in deploying 4G wireless technologies jumpstarted remarkable cycles of innovation in mobile broadband, and the FCC action today is extremely important to maintaining that leadership. Verizon looks forward to working with the FCC on this proceeding and any subsequent proceedings to address availability of spectrum 5G.


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Bonus Depreciation: a tax policy that drives investment and economic growth

Ask any student of an Econ 101 class and they’ll tell you: Investment drives economic growth. Whether its investment in physical, financial, or human capital, investment - the practice of putting some of today’s resources towards growing tomorrow’s gains - is fundamental to growth in the modern economy. Unfortunately, the ability of U.S. businesses to free up capital for investing in equipment or jobs is being further hamstrung by Congress’ inability to approve extension of a little-known tax policy called “bonus depreciation.”

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Solving the rural broadband challenge

We talk a lot about the need to bring more spectrum to market for mobile broadband consumers (see here, here, here, here, here, and here for recent examples). While we, as a network provider, relish any opportunity to connect more people – and now “things” – to the Internet, our vision regarding the connected 21st-century isn’t limited to users who happen to be Verizon customers. A reliable Internet connection is important for people’s productivity, health care or just being connected for news, no matter where they live/work/play, or who their carrier is.

That’s one reason why about five years ago Verizon launched the LTE in Rural America (LRA) program: to help rural wireless companies across America deliver the promise of mobile 4G LTE broadband to their customers.

The program is simple enough: our partner rural carriers can access our 700MHz spectrum and leverage Verizon’s top-rated network via a mutual roaming relationships and their customer. Our customers get a strong signal when inside partner territories, and their customers can use Verizon’s 4G LTE network wherever their travels may take them. Beyond spectrum, we also work with rural carriers to provide core network services, IT integration, and device certification, allowing them to offer their customers a 4G LTE network that is on par with the very best in the country.

Today, we’re excited to announce that all 21 LRA participants have launched their 4G LTE service. Here are just a few accomplishments the program mas achieved since launch:

2.7 million people are covered by 4G LTE technology, across 169 rural counties in 15 states

240,000 square miles of Verizon’s spectrum is leased by LRA participants

1,000+ 4G LTE cell sites have been activated, covering an area larger than Colorado

Our LRA partners are offering more than just 4G mobile phone plans; 4G LTE technology is serving customers in unique ways and places, including:

Paducah & Louisville Railway – Installing a traditional telephone wireline circuit to track the location of trains is cost-prohibitive in very remote areas of the country. However, with advances in wireless technology and the Internet of Things (IoT), Verizon is helping to make the necessary connections in Kentucky and other rural areas.

KMA Broadcasting – In the rural farming communities of Southwest Iowa, getting the latest news about weather can mean the difference between a profitable harvest and a year in the red. When the National Weather Service issues a severe weather alert, KMA Broadcasting often is the first place local residents learn about it, thanks to 4G LTE.

Heartland Medical  – The Heartland Mobile Health unit from Montgomery County Memorial Hospital (MCMH) serves a large rural expanse of the state with very few doctors.  If not for the mobile clinic, many residents would have to drive long distances, delay their routine visits or perhaps skip altogether important primary, preventive and other crucial care.

Click here for a full list of LRA participating carriers.

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Eight quotes from “Spectrum Wednesday” that show how Capitol Hill is thinking about spectrum

It was Spectrum Wednesday on Capitol Hill yesterday, when both chambers held hearings discussing the importance of spectrum to consumers, the economy, and our national competitiveness.  The House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held it’s hearing, “Improving Federal Spectrum Systems,” while at the same time, the Senate Commerce Committee held its “Removing Barriers to Wireless Broadband Deployment” hearing.

Instead of recapping the sessions, here are a few quotes that convey how policymakers are thinking about spectrum policy:

From the House Hearing

“Though there are many hurdles to overcome in clearing and reallocating federally held spectrum, we’ve proven it can be done with great success.”

- Rep. Greg Walden, R-OR

“Whether you use it to browse apps or news articles on your mobile phone, or you’re a first responder, just trying to get resources to an emergency situation, we all rely on [spectrum].”

- Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-KY

“The consumers' insatiable demand for wireless service is a critical engine driving our economy and this engine is powered by spectrum.”

- Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-NJ

“It’s not just our phones, or our tablets; we are moving towards a world of connected cars, connected homes, connected lives. … It is our job to make sure that these consumers and these innovators have the spectrum they need.”

- Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-NY

“… we need a plan, a spectrum pipeline for the future that fits with consumer expectations and also ensures a seamless user experience.”

- Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-CA

From the Senate Hearing

“Opening more spectrum for commercial use can bring in revenue to pay down our national debt and fund other priorities.”

Sen. John Thune, R-SD

“We are all here because Americans’ demand for – and reliance on – wireless broadband services seems to know no bounds.”

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL

“Every large ag piece of equipment going into the North American market today is going out equipped with a 3G modem.  In the future it’ll be 4G and in the future 5.”

- Cory Reed, Deere & Company (witness)

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Moving forward on spectrum policy

Yesterday, Verizon Executive Vice President of Public Policy and General Counsel Craig Silliman discussed spectrum policy and the future of mobile connectivity at the International Institute of Communications conference in Washington, DC. Below are his excerpted remarks.

Every week companies take the stage and tell us how they are going to change the world. We’ll never be lost; we’ll have movies where and when we want them; we’ll have phones that read our minds; wearables that make us healthier; apps that find us true love; cars that drive themselves; smart dog collars; smart thermostats; drones.

But who is going to deliver on all those promises? We are. The companies represented in this room, and those like us, have built and will continue building the networks that deliver the promise of the digital world. Without those networks, all those promises are just blocks of plastic and lines of code. And we rely on those of you who are policymakers to create the environment that allows us to build. Only together can we continue to deliver and manage the extraordinary consumer demand for connectivity and everything that connectivity enables.

So how do we accomplish this? Let’s start by talking about spectrum. What kind of spectrum policy do we need to keep meeting consumer demand?

First, we need to continue the flow of spectrum.  In most countries, including the United States, the federal government is the largest spectrum holder. Clearing and deploying new spectrum takes years – more than 10 years on average. In the U.S. a significant auction is planned for 2016, but after that no auctions currently are planned. That is a problem. Given the long time lags involved in identifying and clearing spectrum, policymakers must act now to ensure a steady stream of spectrum to meet consumer demand. This requires not only the normal process of identifying spectrum bands but also recognizing and addressing basic human behaviors and incentives that lead federal agencies to resist repurposing spectrum.

Second, we need to experiment with novel ways to utilize spectrum, including various forms of spectrum sharing. Verizon is actively engaged in the FCC’s efforts to develop a new approach to sharing federal government spectrum at 3.5 GHz, and it is encouraging to see policymakers thinking creatively about spectrum sharing. We need to continue to work on ways to share on both a geographic basis and a temporal basis. Sharing may be particularly important in higher frequencies, but at the same time, we must recognize that sharing is a tool that will be appropriate in some cases, but not all.

Third, in the U.S. we have benefitted tremendously from policymakers having the foresight to make spectrum available under flexible exclusive use terms. That needs to continue. Look, for example, at the 700 MHz and AWS spectrum now being used for 4G LTE services. These spectrum bands were first identified in the mid- to late-1990s as spectrum for 3G, but by the time it was available 4G was being launched. Fortunately, the FCC allowed the flexibility for the spectrum to be used where it was most needed – 4G. This approach allows more experimentation and faster deployment of new technologies.

Fourth, we need to continue to improve the utilization of the spectrum already in use. One example of this is the experimentation that various parties currently are doing with LTE Unlicensed. Significant amounts of data traffic already are offloaded from cellular networks to WiFi, and this will continue to be an important use of WiFi. But LTE-U has been developed as a more efficient way to utilize unlicensed spectrum. LTE-U interacts more efficiently with WiFi than WiFi often does with itself, so this new technology can benefit all users of unlicensed spectrum. We will need to continue to experiment with and invest in technologies like this going forward.

Finally, in parallel with all of these efforts in today’s spectrum bands, we need to begin planning for the next wave of wireless technology, 5G. Verizon kicked-off a 5G Technology Forum last month and we plan to begin trials on the technology next year. But 5G will present a new spectrum challenge for policymakers. For the first time we will see a new technology roll out that likely will not use the existing spectrum that ranges from about 600 MHz up to about 5 GHz that has been the basis of most mobile technologies to date.

Rather, 5G is likely to be built on higher frequencies where spectrum is not yet in the market for commercial use. It therefore will be important for industry and policymakers to begin working together early to identify, clear and deploy the necessary spectrum needed to develop 5G technology. We can’t afford to wait 10 years to identify and clear spectrum for 5G. If we do, it will delay by years the possibilities of the next generation of mobility.

Having discussed the need for more spectrum, let’s ask a more fundament…

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Earlier this week, we started proactively telling our wireless customers how Verizon and AOL will work together, including how the combination will help deliver services that are more personalized and useful to them, and the choices they can make to control the use of their information.
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