Washington

Republican Leaders Pan Justice Take on Incentive Auctions

Say conditions could lead to lowballing broadcasters, failed auction 4/22/2013 12:13:30 PM Eastern

The Republican leadership of the House Energy and Commerce
Committee has told the FCC commissioners that if it follows the Justice
Department's suggestions for the incentive auction, it may not get enough money
to fully compensate broadcasters for giving up spectrum, potential leading to a
failed auction.

Justice
weighed in at the FCC
saying it should take into account the differences in
spectrum value -- lower bands are more valuable for cell service than higher --
when deciding how much spectrum in a market one company should be allowed to
hold. It also suggested that the getting the reclaimed broadcast spectrum into
the hands of competitors to Verizon and AT&T would likely be its highest
and best use.

Led by House E&C chair Fred Upton and Communications
Subcommittee Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.), a half dozen Republican signatories to
the letter said that putting restrictions on bidders in the upcoming broadcast
incentive auctions would reduce the size of bids and "could lead to a
complete failure of the auction," including construction of an interoperable
public safety network.

The legislators said that when they came up with the
legislation establishing the incentive auction, they wanted it to make more
spectrum available to wireless carriers, but that they also expected the
auctions to generate enough revenue to cover broadcasters and the first
responder network and deficit reduction. Justice's suggestions could threaten
that goal, they said.

"The commission should focus on the
capacity constraints faced by all wireless carriers, rather than upon the DOJ's
unsubstantiated speculation about the theoretical incentives that carriers may
or may not have," they wrote.

September
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