Tauzin Introduces Bill to Delay FCC Auction

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) has introduced legislation to delay an upcoming FCC auction of the 700 MHz band of spectrum currently being used by television broadcasters.

Tauzin's bill, H.R.4560, the Auction Reform Act of 2002, has 51 co-sponsors on the Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill will eliminate the statutory deadlines under which the FCC has scheduled the auctions for June. The auction of the upper portion of the 700 MHz band was previously delayed five times from its original date in 2000.

"The FCC currently has the authority to delay these auctions, and should do so," said Tauzin. "But, in addition, to asking the FCC to use its own authority to delay the auctions, I ... am introducing this bill to strip the deadlines from the books." Tauzin says that the "auctions are simply not ready for prime time."

The Representative cited the following as some of the reasons why he has created the bill:

* No comprehensive plan exists for allocating additional spectrum for third-generation wireless and other advanced mobile communications services;
* A study being conducted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Pentagon to determine whether the Pentagon can share or relinquish additional spectrum for third-generation wireless and mobile communications services will not be completed until after the June 19th auction date. Additionally, wireless carriers may want to consult the report before making business decisions;
* The Commission is still in the process of determining how to resolve the interference problems that exist in the 800 MHz band;
* The 700 MHz band is still occupied by television broadcasters, and will be so until the digital transition is complete;
* The Commission's rules governing voluntary mechanisms for the vacation of the 700 MHz band by the broadcasters produced no certainty that the band would be available for mobile communications services, public safety operations and other purposes any earlier than the existing statutory framework provides.