Commission extends deadlines on spectrum policy

Stating it is doing so to “encourage thoughtful consideration,” the FCC has extended the deadlines for comments on proposed spectrum policies until after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

The old deadlines were Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving, and Dec. 24, Christmas Eve. The new deadlines have been extended to Nov. 28 and to Jan. 7.

“Given the proximity of the filing deadlines to two federal holidays, as well as our desire to encourage thoughtful consideration of the important issues raised in this proceeding, we believe that a grant of additional time within which to file comments and reply comments will help to facilitate careful and deliberate consideration of these matters,” said Ruth Milkman, the FCC’s Wireless Bureau Chief.

The spectrum rulemaking is important because it will determine how the commission determines concentration of spectrum in various local markets. The statute, passed by Congress last year, forbids the FCC from excluding companies from bidding in the forward auction. However, the degree of spectrum concentration in certain markets can trigger extra scrutiny from the body.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has been on a campaign calling for spectrum innovation in order to create economic value. In previous speeches, he has said some spectrum owners aren’t using their spectrum efficiently, but noted it was the fault of the government, not their own.

Government decisions made before flexibility was a priority, Genachowski said, was a problem. However, he said incentive auctions could fix that now, allowing market forces to ensure spectrum is used in the most efficient way possible.

The direction of the FCC during the second Obama administration, reported The New York Times last week, will occur in the chairman’s office and the federal courts.

Two of the biggest potential sources for repurposed spectrum are television broadcasters and the military, the newspaper said, and neither has eagerly embraced giving up their current spectrum.

Telcos, like AT&T and Verizon, have challenged the commission’s authority to adopt rules governing how Internet service providers manage their networks and enforce what is known as net neutrality. This, the newspaper reported, may be decided in court.