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The Commission is voting to begin proceedings to determine how broadcast incentive auctions will work, and to evaluate how it limits spectrum concentration. Its agenda is linked here.
The following can be attributed to Senior Staff Attorney John Bergmayer:
"Today the FCC is taking two important steps to promote wireless broadband.
"First, it's announced its plans for moving forward with the broadcast incentive auctions. If successful, these auctions could free up spectrum that is currently being underused. While broadcasting remains important for some communities, some broadcast signals are primarily watched only as re-carried by pay TV systems. It makes little sense to waste spectrum on unwatched signals, and the incentive auction approach strikes an appropriate balance by allowing some broadcasters to 'cash out' while putting their spectrum to better use. The Commission should be commended for recognizing that unlicensed, as well as licensed, uses of spectrum are essential for promoting wireless broadband use. Unlicensed, cheap WiFi hotspots in homes, business, and coffee shops have been as important as billion-dollar cellular buildouts in promoting mobile access.
"Second, the Commission has announced that it will revisit its "spectrum screen," a tool that is supposed to prevent just one or two licensees from acquiring too much spectrum in a given market. The current screen is outdated--its biggest flaw being that it treats all spectrum alike, even though some spectrum bands are better-suited to mobile broadband than others. And the current screen has been ineffective as a tool to prevent concentration, as the last few years have seen Verizon and AT&T build up an ever-growing "spectrum gap" between them and their nearest competitors. It would do little to promote wireless competition if AT&T or Verizon simply acquired the new spectrum that becomes available under the incentive auction process, so it makes sense for the Commission to revisit its screen now."