Pai: Freeing Up Spectrum Via Auctions Is Job One

Says FCC's approach must be balanced and take into account stakeholder concerns
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Count
new Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai among those who want the FCC to move
swiftly to reclaim spectrum from broadcasters, as well as free up more
bandwidth currently in government hands.

That is a according to a copy of his prepared
testimony for a May 16 FCC oversight hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee

The hearing comes only days after Pai was
sworn in (Monday, April 14), a point Pai makes in his statement. "I
welcome your exacting scrutiny regarding my office's performance and priorities
during the fifty-two hours since I was sworn in as a Commissioner," he
jokes.

But on a serious note, he says that the FCC's
priority should be implementation of the incentive auction authority Congress
gave it earlier this year. "With the proliferation of smart phones and
functionally similar devices, the increasing use of high-bandwidth mobile
applications is straining network capacity," he says, sounding much like
his Democratic chairman. "The FCC therefore must do what it can to free up
additional spectrum for broadband, and Congress' recent action has given the
Commission important authority to accomplish this objective."

That is the authority to compensate
broadcasters who give up some or all of their spectrum for auction, presumably
to wireless broadband providers hungry for spectrum. "The Commission needs
to implement the incentive auction legislation swiftly in order to address the
nation's growing demand for wireless broadband," he says.  Pai's
resume includes associate general counsel at Verizon, so he is no stranger to
spectrum or telecom issues.

Pai says that that the FCC's approach must be
balanced and take into account stakeholder concerns. He also says the
government needs to step up as well. "Currently, the federal government
has control over too much spectrum, limiting the amount of spectrum available
to handle the growing demands of American consumers," he says.

Pai also put in a plug for Universal Service
Reform, saying it was a necessity, not a luxury, and pledged to roll up his
sleeves on media ownership, saying "Our efforts must reflect the changing
nature of our nation's media landscape while at the same time preserving the
Commission's commitment to the core values of competition, diversity, and
localism."

The "changing nature" comment
combined with his closing statement provides some clue that he could be joining
his fellow Republican, Robert McDowell, in supporting a broader view of the
marketplace broadcasters have to compete in.

"Faced with an industry as vibrant and
dynamic as today's communications sector," he said, "the Commission
must guard against clinging to twentieth century methods of addressing the
technological landscape of the twenty-first century."

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