In the past we’ve commended the FCC and the administration for their support of incentive auctions to move spectrum now held by broadcaster to its best valued use, likely mobile broadband. Now it’s time to applaud the new House leadership for similarly making moves in the right direction.
The Washington Post reports today that “TV broadcasters resist FCC proposal to surrender more airwaves,” and earlier this month Chairman Genachowski expressed uncertainty about whether he would get congressional support for incentive auctions. But now comes word that newly inaugurated House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton is likely to include spectrum incentive auctions in new broadband rules. It’s great to see Republicans and Democrats coming together on good policy, especially in the face of opposition from a lobby as powerful as the broadcasters.
Moreover, today we also find out that the committee leadership is also considering a commercial auction of the infamous D Block spectrum, which public safety wants simply allocated to them. This puts the E&C leadership at odds with AT&T and Verizon, who oppose auctioning the D Block and would rather see a taxpayer-built built public safety network on the band. (Aside: While I’m all in favor of auction as an allocation method, I am skeptical at solving the public safety interoperability problem by simply throwing money at the existing system.)
So cheers to the new House leadership. Now that everyone’s one the same page (fingers crossed), this should be an easy win for smart policy.