FCC commissioner Ajit Pai has a number of problems with the
FCC's incentive auction framework, which he plans to share with a House
Communications Subcommittee hearing panel Wednesday, where he and the other
commissioners are slated to testify on the status of that framework, which the
FCC released in September and targets a final vote for mid-2013.
According to his prepared testimony, Pai will tell them that
he is concerned about the proposal that the only condition for closing the
auction is that it cover the costs of reverse auction -- paying and moving
broadcasters. That, he says, is like ending an auction after the reserve price
is met. If the FCC only covered the cost, it would not have any money for a
first responder net, public safety research or deficit reduction.
"The Spectrum Act mentions each of these items, which
makes it difficult to square that legislation with an auction that would
provide no funding for them," he says.
Pai is also concerned about possible limits on who could
bid, which could also affect the proceeds and success of the auction, he says.
"If the Commission starts picking and choosing who may participate in the
forward auction -- such as by setting a spectrum cap or narrowing the spectrum
screen despite the robust competition in the wireless market -- it will result
in less participation, less revenue, less spectrum available for mobile
broadband, and less funding for public safety," he says. "Given the
importance of constructing an interoperable public safety network, as well as
the need to reduce the deficit and fund next-generation 911, I believe the FCC
must seek to maximize the net revenues obtained through the commercial
broadcast incentive auction."
Pai is not opposed to looking at ways to improve the FCC's
spectrum cap/screen policy, but he does not support using changes to that to
limit bidding in the spectrum auction.