Senate Commerce Unanimous in Backing Paired Auction

Calls for FCC, DOD, NTIA to come up with plan for relocating DOD spectrum ASAP
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The Senate Commerce Committee is all in behind the FCC
proposal to pair up spectrum in the 1755-1780 band with commercial AWS-3
spectrum to auction for wireless broadband.

That is according to a letter to the FCC, Department of
Defense and the Commerce Department signed by every member of the committee and
some members of the Armed Services Committee. Commerce's National
Telecommunications & Information Administration oversees government
spectrum.

The senators said the move would strengthen both the economy
and national security. In the same legislation that created the broadcast
incentive auctions, the Congress directed the FCC to auction the AWS-3 band by
February 2015. The FCC has said it needs to auction the AWS-3 band by September
2014 to meet its statutory date for licensing the auctioned spectrum. For the
DOD spectrum to be ready to auction by that date, a plan must be submitted by
January 2014, which the Senators say prompts their collective call for action.
"Time is of the essence and a sense of urgency is required if we are to
capitalize on this opportunity to maximize revenue," they wrote.

The Department of Defense currently occupies the 1755-1780
band, but has recently indicated it is willing to find a solution via moving or
sharing that would free up the spectrum for commercial use. If the FCC pairs
the two bands, it will be more attractive at auction and could raise more
money. Proceeds from that auction, like those from the broadcast incentive
auction, will be used to help pay for an interoperable emergency broadband
network.

Senate Commerce Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)
has been pushing for that network for over a decade and helped motorman
incentive auction legislation as a way to pay for it.

The senators want a plan for auctioning the
paired spectrum to be finalized as soon as possible, and want an update on how
that is happening by Sept. 1. DOD is eyeing spectrum currently being used by
broadcasters for electronic news gathering, and while the senators do not say
that is where DOD should move, they so say that DOD's recommended relocation
spectrum must be given serious consideration as part of the transition
process."

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