11.21.2011 11:39 AM
Super Committee pressed on spectrum issues in last-ditch lobbying effort

Last week, spectrum lobbyists from all sides got their one last moment in the sun to voice their opinions before the Congressional super committee. The ever-more-likely incentive auctions proposed for the reclamation of broadcast spectrum is now before the budgetary committee and, as anyone who’s been following this knows, the stakes are high.

As they have previously, sheriffs, police and fire chiefs assembled again to urge the super committee to include a proposal that would reallocate a chunk of spectrum known as the D-block to public safety officials for a national broadband network. They also want the money to build it.

Another group of 125 organizations asked lawmakers to set aside additional unlicensed spectrum for new technologies. Signers of a letter to the members included such notable companies as Google, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. The group is worried that if the FCC is given authority to conduct broadcast incentive auctions, it may not reserve enough unlicensed spectrum for alternative and experimental uses.

“We urge Congress to give the FCC the flexibility to preserve TV band spectrum for unlicensed super Wi-Fi devices and deliver innovation to American consumers and economic growth to our nation,” they wrote in the letter to the co-chairs of the super committee, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

Wireless industry lobbyists asked — still again — for legislation authorizing incentive auctions to entice broadcasters to sell off some of their spectrum for mobile broadband use. The Mobile Future coalition stressed the potential revenues that could be generated for deficit reduction from incentive auctions.

“We urge you to consider the timely opportunity to reduce the deficit and spur lasting economic recovery and job creation by calling for voluntary auctions to make more wireless spectrum available to expand the mobile Internet,” wrote Jonathan Spalter, the chairman of the Mobile Future group.

The super committee is considering selling off broadcast spectrum to raise money to help pay down the deficit. But public safety groups want to ensure the panel doesn’t leave out public safety provisions from any package, and the high-tech companies want to ensure plenty of unlicensed spectrum. Wireless carriers want to make sure spectrum auctions hold in any committee action.

“We know (the super committee) is coming down to the final hours, and we wanted to get in here and on their radar screen,” said Sean Kirkendall, a spokesman for the Public Safety Alliance, a coalition of fire and police chiefs and other public safety officials. It was the same for everyone else.



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