Washington

FCC Gets High Fives for Incentive Auction Launch

Stakeholders are quick to weigh in on Friday's vote 9/28/2012 12:51:50 PM Eastern

In most cases, reaction to the FCC's unanimous vote to launch
its broadcast spectrum incentive auction rulemaking was swift and positive.
Absent from that chorus was the National Association of Broadcasters, which
scheduled a news conference for later in the day to talk about the proposal.

"The FCC's adoption of a proposed rulemaking to implement a
voluntary incentive spectrum auction begins the process of fulfilling
Congress's vision for fast, ubiquitous broadband to all Americans," said
Rep Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
which helped draft the legislation establishing the auctions. "The
proposal recognizes the need for a competitive wireless landscape and the
importance of a nationwide block of spectrum dedicated to unlicensed
innovation. The Commission's action today lays the foundation for a 21st
century spectrum policy that will drive American innovation, create new jobs
and increase consumer choice."

House Energy & Commerce Committee ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) put in a plug for unlicensed spectrum, which the FCC made lots of room for in the spectrum proposal, including TV white spaces, though they will be repacked as well; their own channel--37--guard bands, and spectrum that had been reserved for wireless mics.

"I applaud the FCC's unanimous approval of the Incentive Auction Notice of Proposed Rulemaking," he said. "This is an important milestone towards implementing the bipartisan Public Safety and Spectrum legislation passed by Congress earlier this year.... In particular, Congress recognized the value of unlicensed spectrum to promote innovation and economic growth and gave the FCC the authority to utilize nationwide guard bands for this purpose. "I am pleased that the FCC's action today is faithful to Congressional intent and aims to promote unlicensed use as well as the innovation that will surely follow."

On the Senate side, Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), who was instrumental in passage of the incentive auction legislation as a way to pay for a first responder network, shared Eshoo's enthusiasm. "Today's action by the FCC moves us yet another step closer to creating a truly nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network for our first responders," he said "When we authorized voluntary incentive auctions to fund the public safety network earlier this year, Congress recognized the dual benefit of promoting innovative spectrum policy and providing funding for next-generation public safety communications. I know that developing the rules for the incentive auctions will be a complex process, but I am optimistic that broadcasters, wireless companies, and others will work cooperatively with the FCC to make sure these auctions are successful."

 

Rockefeller's former top telecom aide is Jessica Rosenworcel, the newest Democratic FCC commissioner who joined her colleagues Friday in launching the landmark rulemaking.

 

Rockefeller's opposite number on the House side in terms of motormanning incentive auction legislation, House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), himself a former broadcaster, also weighed in. "

"Today we are one step closer to advancing spectrum policies this subcommittee has been championing for more than five years," he said. "If implemented well, the law has the potential to help meet Americans' hunger for mobile broadband services, generate hundreds of thousands of jobs, and raise billions of dollars toward buildout of the nationwide, interoperable public safety network called for by the 9/11 Commission. We will work with stakeholders and the FCC to try to make those goals come to fruition."

 

Also celebrating was CTIA: The Wireless Association, whose
members have been clamoring for access to that reclaimed broadcast spectrum.

"Today's action by the chairman and commissioners was an
important step toward alleviating the looming spectrum crisis that we've been
warning policymakers about for the last three years," said CTIA president
Steve Largent. 

"Since spectrum is a finite resource, we're pleased the
Commission has begun the process of establishing the rules that will fulfill
the goals of the recently adopted, bipartisan spectrum legislation. We also
commend the Commission for working to ensure that it not only establishes rules
that result in a successful auction, but also completes its efforts in a timely
manner. In order to maintain our global leadership in the mobile ecosystem, we
must ensure that this spectrum is brought to market more quickly than the
almost ten years it took to bring the last two spectrum blocks to market."

The FCC says it will try to hold the auction by 2014.

TechAmerica president and CEO Shawn Osborne welcomed the
move. "We believe that incentive auctions are an innovative way to reclaim
spectrum and urge the FCC to also focus on necessary infrastructure and access.
We applaud the Commission for making this rule-making process inclusive of all
stakeholders. Because of the dual nature of the auction, this will be more
complicated than most, so having all the interested parties engaged will be
critical."

"We're glad the Commission has taken these two initial steps
to reform its approach to spectrum, and we urge it to promote meaningful
competition and innovation in the mobile market," said Free Press policy
director Matt Wood. "The stakes couldn't be higher. As competition dwindles and
prices for wireless service increase, the Commission has an opportunity to
propel competition and innovation forward. Failing to seize these opportunities
would further cement Verizon and AT&T as entrenched duopoly providers."

The reference to two steps was the FCC's separate vote to
review its spectrum screen, which potentially limits the amount of spectrum any
one company can hold in individual markets.

The Consumer Electronics Association, which has been pushing
as hard as any group to get spectrum back from broadcasters, was understandably
happy at this next step in that process.

"Additional
spectrum is not only key to our national competitiveness, but also needed for creating jobs and
spurring economic growth," said Julie Kearney, VP  of regulatory affairs.

"The
FCC's adoption of this critical spectrum item is a great step forward toward unleashing countless
innovative products and services that rely on our nation's valuable spectrum
resources. We look forward to reviewing the FCC's NPRM and helping the FCC
craft rules that will ensure that consumers are able to use their smartphones
and tablets to their fullest capabilities."

Former congressman Tom Tauke, now executive VP of Verizon,
made sure to give Congress its due in his praise for the proposal. "Verizon applauds
the FCC's prompt response to the passage of incentive auction legislation by
Congress. Consumer demand for advanced wireless services is growing rapidly,
and more spectrum must be made available for mobile services in order to meet
consumers' needs. Today's action by Chairman Genachowski and the Commission is
an important step toward achieving a successful incentive auction."

"To meet soaring consumer demand for mobile Internet services and to maintain a robust platform for innovative mobile services, rational spectrum policies and bold action are vital. The spectrum-related items adopted by the FCC today represent significant progress towards reaching these important goals," said Joan Marsh, AT&T VP.

"Wireless carriers need a clear and reliable understanding of when and under what circumstances spectrum acquisitions will be permitted, something we do not have today. With today's FCC action, spectrum policy can now be taken out of merger-specific proceedings, placed in an industry-wide, open and transparent proceeding, and ultimately subjected to judicial review."

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