12.14.2011 05:28 PM
House Passes Spectrum Auction Bill

WASHINGTON: The House last night passed legislation authorizing the Federal Communications Commission to hold incentive auctions for broadcast spectrum. It was included in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which also extends the payroll tax cut, authorizes the Keystone pipeline expansion, allocates the D-Block of spectrum for public safety and mandates flood insurance reform. It passed the House 234-193 late Tuesday.

Sec. 4103 of the bill “grants the FCC authority to conduct incentive auctions under which it shares some of the proceeds with licensees who return spectrum.” It limits authority to auctions were there is competition on the “reverse” side that sets the buy-out price.

The bill restricts the auctions to broadcasters who voluntarily relinquish spectrum, but curtails administrative remedies for those who do not and who protest their relocation. It provides up to $3 billion for TV stations and cable headends for channel repacking, and ensures that sufficient spectrum remains for those broadcasters who want to stay in the business of broadcasting.

The bill says the FCC will be required to auction spectrum as it clears, while retaining discretion to “add to the approximately 675 MHz of unlicensed spectrum currently available below 6 GHz by allowing secondary, shared use of this spectrum, or primary, dedicated use of other spectrum.” It instructs the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to pursue more secondary allocations for unlicensed use within government operations in the 5 GHz band.

The legislation specifically prohibits the FCC from using the authority to impose network neutrality or “mandatory wholesaling” the wireless companies that buy the TV spectrum. The auction authority is extended through 2021.

President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

“This Congress needs to do its job and stop the tax hike that’s scheduled to affect 160 million Americans in 18 days,” the White House responded. “This is not a time for Washington Republicans to score political points against the President. It’s not a time to refight old ideological battles. And it’s not a time to break last summer’s bipartisan agreement and hurt the middle class by cutting things like education, clean energy, and veterans’ programs without asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.”

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued a statement that went on at some length about the necessity of the incentive auctions for promoting nationwide broadband:

“Incentive auction authority, which has broad bipartisan support, needs to become law. Unless we free up new spectrum for mobile broadband, the looming spectrum crunch risks throttling our mobile economy and frustrating mobile consumers.”

He also said certain provisions would “tie the agency’s hands” with regard to the uses of unlicensed spectrum. He also took aim at the way it required the FCC to structure the auctions.

Ensuring that the Commission retains the flexibility to determine the optimal band plan for new spectrum that becomes available, including the creation of guard bands and other interference safeguards, will enhance the value of the new commercial mobile licenses, as will ensuring that the Commission can conduct auctions in ways that will best further innovation, investment, and competition in the wireless space.

~ Deborah D. McAdams, Television Broadcast



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1.
Posted by: Brian Smith
Wed, 41-14-2011 05:41 PM Report Comment
As usual the Republicans and Democrats are ignoring the fact that all of the electronic devices will be coming from Asia as they force consumers to buy all new devices and pay monthly user fees for these new devices that will take over this spectrum. The I.E.E.E has documented a steady decline in their American members and a steady increase in Asian members as companies shift their high tech design jobs for these devices to Asia as well. The only new American jobs will be part time minimum benefits mall jobs selling the foreign made electronics. This bill really needs stipulations that require American designed and built equipment be used for these reallocated spectrum if they are serious about improving the American economy.
2.
Posted by: Anonymous
Tue, 23-14-2012 09:23 AM Report Comment
Another bill with no strings to build any of the related equipment in this country, just another big giveaway. The truly rural areas will be too sparsely populated to support high speed broadband without subsidies, so the real target are the high population areas which will also have the most broadcasters to displace. ATSC 3.0 cannot get a new system fast enough to fix this.




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“Broadcasters assigned to new channels following the auction could be forced to accept reductions in their coverage area and population served, with no practical remedy.” ~NAB

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