Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

In this edition of The Week in Tech Policy, we have stories on the Federal Communications Commission’s new broadband progress report, wireless spectrum and California’s new Location Privacy Act.

Federal Communications Commission issues new broadband report. “The nation has made significant progress expanding high-speed Internet access in recent years, but further implementation of major reforms newly adopted by the Federal Communications Commission is required before broadband will be available to the approximately 19 million Americans who still lack access,” according to the eighth FCC broadband progress report. The agency’s report, which was covered by various news outlets and blogs, including CNET, goes on to emphasize broadband access as essential to “innovation, jobs and global competitiveness.”

House subcommittee will continue looking into best usage for government spectrum. For the past several months, there’s been an ongoing debate as to the best way to use spectrum held by the U.S. government. The Obama administration has taken the stance that the best approach may be to share some bands of spectrum with the private sector, while wireless carriers feel the best approach is to turn some bands over to them for their exclusive use. Now, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Communications and Technology is set to examine the issue with more hearings, Hillicon Valley reports.

FCC suspends deregulation in “special access” markets. “The Federal Communications Commission issued an order Wednesday night that suspends the rules under which telecommunications companies can request the deregulation of special access markets, on a 3-2 vote that followed party lines,” The National Journal’s Tech Daily Dose Blog reports. According to the report, “special access” refers to “high speed broadband connections that link commercial users like office buildings to main telecommunications lines. Dominant providers typically lease access to rivals who want to provide special access service without shouldering the costs of duplicating broadband infrastructure. The FCC estimates that the market for special access services is between $12 billion and $18 billion a year.”

California lawmakers approve Location Privacy Act. Last week’s edition of The Week in Tech Policy highlighted reports that a federal court ruled that police don’t need a warrant to track mobile phones. Now, Ars Technica, among others, reports that the California Legislature has passed the Location Privacy Act of 2012, “which would make it mandatory for law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before gathering any GPS or other location-tracking data that a suspect's cell phone might be sending back to its carrier.” The bill isn’t law yet though, and requires the signature of California Gov. Jerry Brown to go into effect.