FCC Commissioner Pai criticizes WTB auction rulemaking action

Ajit Pai, a Republican FCC commissioner, called the new comment action by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) “tilting at windmills” that has “substantive and procedural infirmities that I fear will lead to an incentive auction rulemaking astray.”

Pai told FierceBroadbandWireless, a website that covers broadband technologies, that he is not pleased with the WTB notice and was not consulted about it in advance.

“If the commission still aims to hold the incentive auction in 2014, we have neither the time nor the resources to focus on band plans that we are highly unlikely to ever adopt,” Pai told FierceBroadbandWireless.

“The record contains overwhelming support for a band plan that starts at Channel 51 with uplink, that does not contemplate broadcast operations in the duplex gap, and that accommodates frequency-division duplexing,” he told the website. “That would be the one broadcasters and wireless operators offered up as an alternative to the FCC’s initial proposal, which neither liked.”

Pai pointed out that the FCC notice, instead of seeking more input on that consensus broadcast/wireless plan, seeks input on a variety of other options for which there is “little or no support.”

The notice, Pai said, should have come from the full FCC, not the bureau. “The bureau should not seek comment on new 600MHz band plans on delegated authority," he said. "The public notice presents several novel questions of policy, novel enough that I had not even seen most of the band plans contained therein until 48 hours ago.

“This is precisely the sort of decision that the full commission should make,” Pai said. “Any short-term administrative convenience gained by this course of action is outweighed by the sacrifice of commissioners’ input and accountability.”