FCC & Class B, Maritel's back!
Arghhhhhh! The FCC’s final approval of the Class B AIS ruling, already troubled, just got a lot more complicated. In the last few days a lawyer for MariTEL, Inc. has spoken directly to the legal aides for three of the five FCC Commissioners, trying to make the case that the Ruling is unfair to MariTEL. You can read the details in his “Notice of Ex Parte Communications” by going to this search form and pasting 04–344 into the top field (Proceeding). This issue goes back years, and was well explained by Fred Pot in Nov., 2003. Panbo commenter “norse” added more valuable background in that last “troubled” Class B entry. But I’m not the only one who thought the MariTEL problem was solved a while back. In fact, a MariTEL executive confirmed that to me a year or so ago.
Apparently now the company feels that the situation has changed. Or maybe just that they can spin some of that “free market” FCC philosophy I wrote about into some cash or wireless spectrum. I don’t claim to understand all the issues MariTEL is suddenly bringing up, but I didn’t miss the reference to the huge 700 MHz auction going on now, i.e. how those big wallet bidders would drop out if they thought the FCC might treat them like poor little MariTEL. Pardon the bitterness, but my sense is that the U.S. Coast Guard, a slew of worthy electronics manufacturers, and a whole lot of safety conscious mariners just got blind tackled right at the goal line.
OK, that’s a pretty lame analogy. This game doesn’t actually have a time limit, and, heck, maybe the FCC Commissioners will disregard MariTEL’s goal line move. But how can any of us move things in the right direction? I’ve contacted BoatUS — hoping they’ll apply their formidable lobbying skills — and know they’re “aware of the situation”. As for my letter to the FCC Commissioners, like others of you, the only response I’ve gotten was a nearly incomprehensible multi-page PDF about how to make comments. I sort of recall that “Ex Parte” was in there, but not an explanation of how to get a sit-down with a Commssioner’s legal aide. Any organizations out there have influential Washington lawyers?