FCC commissioners share incentive-auction ideas at CTIA
FCC Acting Chair Mignon Clyburn and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel this week unveiled plans and proposals concerning spectrum policies—specifically those related to the agency’s first incentive auctions—during the annual CTIA show being conducted in Las Vegas.
Clyburn expressed confidence that the incentive auctions—designed to auction spectrum cleared by TV broadcasters that receive financial benefit from their efforts—will be conducted next year. Revenues generated from the incentive auctions are earmarked for a variety of initiatives, including to help fund up to $7 billion for the nationwide public-safety broadband network to be built by FirstNet.
“The incentive-auctions team is continuing to work on, and evaluate, all of the input and proposals received during our workshops and webinars, and the commission remains on track to issue auction rules this year and conduct an auction in 2014,” Clyburn said during a speech delivered Tuesday, her second full day as the FCC’s acting chair.
Yesterday, Rosenworcel shared some proposals designed to ensure that the FCC can meet this timeline, beginning with the idea that the agency conduct a series of four public hearings about the incentives auctions.
“We can use these sessions to explore four major aspects of the auctions—the reverse auction, the repacking, the forward auction and the transition process,” Rosenworcel said during a speech. “We could ask the hard questions. What’s the right balance of licensed and unlicensed spectrum under the law? How do the forward and reverse auctions fit together? Sequential or simultaneous? Commissioners could attend, engage directly with experts, and provide the public with an opportunity to connect directly with decision-makers.”
Other ideas proposed by Rosenworcel included:
- FCC commissioners should establish a 600 MHz band plan “by the third quarter of this year.”
- The 65 MHz of spectrum in multiple swaths from 1.7 GHz to 2.1 GHz that needs to be auctioned next year should be sold in a single traditional auction.
- Incentive auctions should be conducted soon after the completion of the auction of the 65 MHz mentioned above, probably in the fourth quarter of 2014.
- Give the winner of the 2155-2180 MHz auction exclusive rights to negotiate a deal with federal incumbents in the 1755-1780 MHz band—spectrum that is scheduled to be cleared, but not in time for the 2014 traditional auction.
In addition, Rosenworcel said the incentive auctions would benefit from “transparency” of FCC plans.
“We should share our repacking methodology by the end of the year,” she said. “This will give broadcasters a better chance to assess the opportunities and impacts of the incentive auction.”