Yesterday, FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel joined fellow Commissioner Pai in calling for a clear timeline for upcoming incentive auctions. Setting a timeline for critical decisions that will affect the future of the mobile Internet for the next decade is common sense. It would ensure sound management of the agency’s resources and set appropriate expectations for Congress and the communications industry. Now that the timeline has bipartisan support, the Chairman will likely be unable to continue avoiding accountability on this issue.
She also proposed something that no one in the Obama Administration has been willing to mention: An incentive auction approach to reclaiming federal spectrum for commercial use. Bravo!
As I noted at a recent event hosted by the Advanced Communications Law and Policy Institute at New York Law School, the federal government’s greatest challenge in increasing the efficiency of its spectrum use is funding, which is exactly what incentive auctions are designed to produce. Yet, the Administration is focusing its efforts solely on spectrum sharing, which is less efficient from both a technical and economic perspective than clearing spectrum through market-based incentive auctions.
This doesn’t mean the Administration should abandon its consideration of spectrum sharing. At the recent House oversight hearing, Commissioner Rosenworcel said that incentive auctions alone would not be enough to meet our nation’s spectrum needs. But, as Commissioner Rosenworcel suggests, the Administration should be exploring options for providing federal agencies with incentives to clear spectrum as well, including through incentive auctions.