House Republicans Slam Unlicensed 'Giveaway'
Also say any FCC effort to limit bidders in forward spectrum auction would violate Communications Act
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/10/2012 11:04:52 AM
That is according to a staff memo for the Dec. 12 hearing on those auctions in the House Communication Subcommittee. The hearing is scheduled to feature all five of the commissioners.
The FCC plans to free up spectrum for unlicensed use as part of the auction process, including allowing unlicensed use in the guard bands between wireless and broadcast service and on spectrum that is not cleared on a nationwide basis, they say. "Giving away large swaths of spectrum for unlicensed use could deprive public safety officials and taxpayers of billions of dollars," the memo argues.
The Republicans are also not happy with the FCC's proposal seeking comment on spectrum aggregation and whether it should restrict the amount of spectrum entities could bid for at auction. The Republicans see that as a way to limit the participation of larger carriers. "Excluding parties from the auction, as the FCC's aggregation NPRM contemplates, would likely hinder the broadband objectives of the act as well as reduce auction proceeds."
In addition, they argue, excluding any bidders would violate the Communications Act's prohibition on "prevent[ing] a person from participating in a system of competitive bidding." They argue that effectively limiting bidding by changing what triggers excessive concentration of wireless spectrum holdings in individual markets runs afoul of that provision. "Picking winners and losers with such 'prior restraints' is antithetical to open, competitive auctions," they conclude.
The use of the "giveaway" language to characterize the use of spectrum on the public's own property is truly Orwellian.
J.H. Snider - 12/11/2012 3:08:52 PM EST
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