FCC infographic lays out case for voluntary incentive auction

October 26, 2011

As the supercommittee of Congress charged with identifying $1.2 trillion in federal budget savings over the next 10 years approached the T-minus one month mark last week, the Federal Communications Commission released an "infographic" illustrating how the U.S. Treasury could generate $30 billion from an incentive auction of spectrum.

The infographic, released Oct. 19, sums up the concept of the incentive auction and the rationale for conducting one in easily digestible imagery and stats. With jobs on most people's minds, the public and lawmakers alike likely will focus in on the assertion depicted on the graphic that with sufficient spectrum the "apps economy" is projected to grow to $35 billion in 2015, up from $4 billion today, and add 771,000 new jobs.

It also depicts how smart phones and tablets are creating a spectrum crunch and the way a voluntary incentive auction solves it. According to the infographic, a voluntary incentive auction will generate as much as $30 billion in proceeds and 10 times that amount in consumer benefits.

According to a commission press release accompanying the release of the infographic, not conducting an incentive auction to free up spectrum for mobile applications "will stifle innovation and result in higher prices for consumers and growing network congestion."

The FCC's National Broadband Plan envisions voluntary incentive auctions and subsequent repacking of the TV band freeing up 120MHz of spectrum from mobile use. The 12 members of Congress on the supercommittee, which must identify the $1.2 trillion in budget cuts or see automatic reductions to defense and entitlement spending, must weigh information like that presented in the new FCC infographic against the impact on the television viewing public and at least one other approach that promises greater revenue for the U.S. Treasury.

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