Former FCC chairman Reed Hundt, who oversaw the first
spectrum auction, says he thinks current FCC chair Julius Genachowski is doing
"a great job" running the current FCC incentive auction, which is
currently still in the planning stages. Genachowski is a former top aide to
Hundt and former chief of staff and more recently National
Broadband Plan architect Blair Levin, whose plan proposed the auction, were on
C-SPAN's Communicators talking about their new e-book, The Politics of Abundance.
Hundt conceded that one had to be a "game
theorist" rather than a "mere lawyer" to understand all the
intricacies of the incentive auction -- which is a double-sided auction. But he
said the main thing was that it was not difficult to bring about profound
change if "you really focus on it."
Hundt said the "big change" is that there are
"an awful lot of over-the-air broadcast signals that are reaching almost
no one from stations that have almost no audience and would be just as happy to
be on cable TV." Hundt has said that he decided in 1994, when he was
chairman, that the
Internet should be the common medium of the nation and broadcasting should not
He said that spectrum could be used for smartphones instead.
He conceded the change would be "tricky" given that you have to
"strike a balance," but that the change itself is "pretty
The result, he predicted, would be tens of billions of
dollars of new private sector investment pouring into that new opportunity.
"That's the cool thing."
"We have to have faster, cheaper broadband if we want
to be at the forefront of innovation," says Levin, who is currently with
the Aspen Institute. Levin says that all government services should be moved
online -- it could save a trillion dollars -- but that to do that
"everyone needs to be online. We can't leave anyone behind," he said.
The FCC is working on getting a final framework for the
auctions done this year, and the auctions completed by the end of 2014, though
Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake has conceded that is an ambitious target.