FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced the formation of an Incentive Auction Task Force March 21, 2012, and that Ruth Milkman, special counsel to the Chairman for Innovation in Government, has begun managing the group on an interim basis.
In announcing the task force, Genachowski pledged that the process would not harm the broadcast industry. “When the incentive auction of the TV bands is complete, we expect to have a healthy broadcast sector, and a strong, robust, competitive and world-leading mobile industry,” said Genachowski.
“Incentive auctions are a big idea. The concept, of course, which we developed in our National Broadband Plan, is to deploy market forces and a market-based mechanism to repurpose spectrum for flexible use, including mobile broadband,” said Genachowski.
Congress in mid-February authorized the FCC to conduct voluntary incentive auctions as part of legislation extending the payroll tax cut extension. Saying the task force faced a complex challenge, Genachowski said he was confident the FCC staff is up to the task. “The legislation, at more than 100 pages, raises many difficult issues,” he said.
Implementing the auctions “will be guided by the economics and the engineering,” said Genachowski.
Members of the task force include: Rick Kaplan chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau; Bill Lake, Media Bureau chief; Julie Knapp, the head of the Office of Engineering and Technology; chief economist Marius Schwartz; Henning Schulzrinne, chief technologist; and general counsel Austin Schlick.
The FCC first proposed voluntary incentive auctions in its National Broadband Plan, unveiled two years ago. The mechanism is designed to reward spectrum incumbents, including TV broadcasters that choose to voluntarily relinquish spectrum with a portion of the proceeds of an auction of their spectrum. The FCC is seeking to clear 120MHz of TV spectrum for future use by wireless broadband Internet providers.