Commissioner Meredith Baker Friday said the debate over spectrum reform had
devolved into two inaccurate and unhelpful narratives: a rush to reallocate
500 MHz of spectrum and 'broadcast vs. broadband.'
The FCC's national broadband plan includes finding that 500 MHz to auction
for wireless, but according to her speech at a Free State Foundation
policy conference Friday in Washington, Baker suggested spectrum reform is on
the wrong track, or at least is too focused on speed.
there is the race to get 500 MHz of spectrum reallocated for broadband,"
she said. "If all we do is reallocate the easiest 500 MHz to shift towards
broadband, we have done future generations a disservice. Unquestionably,
we need more spectrum, but I want us to focus on getting the right spectrum,
the right way, and not merely the easiest way."
Julius Genachowski has been calling for Congress to authorize incentive
auctions as the commissioner prepares to reclaim spectrum. It has already
changed some of its rules to allow for sharing of TV spectrum with wireless,
and has called for comment on how to make other changes to the band to make it
easier to move and consolidate broadcast spectrum to make room.
She said the
other inaccurate narrative in the spectrum reform debate is pitting broadcasters
against broadband. "I reject the idea that we have to choose between
broadcasting and broadband," she said. "And while I wholeheartedly
support incentive auctions as an additional tool in our spectrum toolbox, it is
insufficient alone to address our spectrum challenges."
toning down the "spectrum crisis" rhetoric, saying a better label
might be "spectrum exhaustion."
Broadcasters have been
painted by the consumer electronics industry lobby as spectrum
but the National Association of Broadcasters this week wrote to key legislators
arguing that some cable and wireless companies were the squatters for sitting
on unused spectrum.