A ‘Win-Win’ with Broadcast Incentive Auctions

Last month, we summarized our comments to the FCC on the importance of utilizing broadcast incentive auctions to ease the impending spectrum crunch and promote continued wireless innovation.

As we said then and have highlighted again in our reply comments on the proceeding, the Commission’s proposals in the “TV Spectrum Innovation NPRM” represent a crucial first step in developing a framework to reallocate broadcast spectrum. The record in the proceeding demonstrates the FCC should:

  • Continue its efforts to develop a comprehensive framework for reallocation of broadcast television spectrum for mobile broadband use via incentive auctions;
  • Adopt its proposal to add fixed and mobile allocations for the UHF band;
  • Adopt its proposal to permit voluntary channel sharing which would help to “preserve over-the-air television as a healthy, viable medium going forward, in a way that would benefit consumers overall;”
  • Continue to explore its proposals to increase the utility of the VHF TV spectrum; and
  • Undertake a careful examination of the benefits of moving to cellularized broadcast systems.

By adopting these proposals this would be a “win-win” for broadcasters, consumers and the wireless industry.

    Unfortunately, certain members of the broadcast industry would prefer to inhibit broadcaster flexibility and undermine the incentive auction process. This makes no sense; according to our white paper we released with CEA, these voluntary auctions would result in an influx of capital for the broadcasters, 120 MHz of spectrum being made available for wireless use and the U.S. Treasury receiving more than $33 billion. For the broadcasters that choose to participate in incentive auctions, their channels would be repacked into a new television core at channels 7-30.

    Incentive auctions are a “win-win” situation for broadcasters, consumers and the wireless industry. We were pleased to see a number of commenters supporting the auctions as a fair tool to effectively reallocate spectrum and ensure America’s continued technology leadership. It’s not just the tech industry that agrees; last month, 112 leading economists that specialize in telecommunications, auction theory or competition policy sent a letter to President Obama endorsing incentive auctions as “a valuable tool to increase the efficiency of spectrum use in the United States.”

    We also join numerous commenters in support of the NPRM’s proposals to adopt fixed and mobile wireless allocations for the UHF/VHF bands, channel sharing and improvements to VHF. These proposals would ensure that spectrum is going to its highest use as dictated by consumer demand while preserving over-the-air television as a healthy, viable medium going forward. We also encourage the Commission to take steps to improve the VHF spectrum and create incentives for broadcasters to relocate to these channels.

    It’s important to act now to bring additional spectrum to market. Despite the broadcasters’ claims to the contrary, the spectrum crisis is looming and is threatening to stop the “virtuous cycle” of innovation. We hope the Commission adopts the NPRM’s proposals soon.

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