Spectrum Inventory Bill Fails To Pass On Unanimous Consent
Rep. Broun (R-Ga.) is holdout, slams administration over jobs
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 4/14/2010 1:06:20 PM
The bill, which was approved by a voice vote in the House Energy & Commerce Committee March 10, directs the FCC and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration to figure out how and where private stakeholders are using their spectrum. But the bill was tabled after a member requested a voice vote.
That came after much saluting of the bill's bipartisan nature, but a single holdout prevents the fast-track approach of unanimous consent, which limits floor debate on the bill. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) was that holdout, having taken to the floor briefly to slam the Obama Administration over jobs and say that the Congress was "ignoring the greatest spectrum that the American people are demanding, and that's jobs."
The commission is looking to start the process of reclaiming spectrum from broadcasters and others this year as part of an aggressive rollout schedule for the national broadband plan.
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), chairman of the Communications & Internet Subcommittee and a co-sponsor of the bill, has said that a thorough inventory is necessary before the FCC can determine where and from whom it needs the spectrum, which it plans to auction for wired broadband use.
To that end, the bill was amended to give the FCC four years to report to Congress on any relocation or spectrum-sharing plan stemming from that inventory, including "an explanation of the basis for that recommendation."
If the bill does eventually pass, the FCC will have to move a lot faster than that if it is to justify the reallocation plan it already wants to start moving on in the next few months. The commission has already determined that it needs to get 120 MHz of spectrum back from broadcasters by 2015 as part of the national broadband plan. In its published agenda, the FCC has proposed a rulemaking on its voluntary incentive auctions for reclaiming spectrum by later this year and to begin re-auctioning the broadcast spectrum as early as 2012. A similar bill is S. 649, is teed up in the Senate.
Boucher said again Wednesday that he did not support the FCC forcing broadcasters off their band, and thought the inventory needed to come before any spectrum clearing plan.