FCC considers interference proposal

Jun 23, 2015 10:59 pm
Mitchell Lazarus at the Communications Law Blog reports on a proposal from law students at the University of Colorado, who think the Federal Communications Commission needs a faster way to sort out interference claims. FM broadcast, fixed satellite, Wi-Fi, and amateur radio can all be plagued by interference. Lazarus says the FCC is quick to react when radar detectors interfered with satellite receivers, and some Internet service interrupted weather radar. But more often, the parties involved just have to put up with the errant noise. The new Petition for Rulemaking proposes interference victims file a complaint directly with an FCC Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). With help from a “spectrum technical advisor,” the magistrate would rule on the interference issue under the proposal. Lazurus at the Comm Law Blog doesn't think the proposal stands much of a chance, since the FCC has bare laws on interference for a judge to interpret, and since the FCC currently only has one judge. "Our other concern centers on appeal processes and their potential for crippling expense and delay. An ALJ’s decision can be appealed to the full Commission. After the Commission rules, a party can request reconsideration of its decision. A party can then seek review of that result in turn before a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals. The losing party there can request a rehearing by the initial three-judge panel and/or further review by the entire court sitting en banc; it can then ask the U.S. Supreme Court to accept the case. The initial Commission review and each of the court options can typically take a year or more; the FCC tends to give reconsiderations a low priority, so that stage might need two or three years. Thus, even if the ALJ moves promptly, a final resolution could still take the better part of a decade." Comments on the petition are due by July 13, 2015; use proceeding number RM-11750.