FCC (News - Alert) Prepares Rules for New TV Airwaves Auction
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) on Friday proposed new rules for selling TV airwaves for use by smartphones. A step intended to raise $15 billion and help meet soaring demand for wireless computing.
The Commission approved a document that recommends best methods of conducting auctions of frequencies that would be voluntarily surrendered by TV stations. And, in turn, sold to mobile providers led by Verizon (News - Alert) (News - Alert) Wireless.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski (News - Alert), said, “This is a big deal.” The FCC Chairman further added, “The auctions, expected to take place in 2014, will free airwaves, raise very substantial revenue and help provide funds for a nationwide radio network for emergency workers such as police and firefighters.”
According to an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, the auctions could fetch $15.2 billion for the U.S. Treasury. The report indicates that the Congress called for the auctions in legislation that passed in February.
President Barack Obama’s administration has made freeing more airwaves a priority because U.S. competitiveness depends “in part on fast and widespread mobile-Internet service.”
As per this report, the FCC is planning to buy airwaves from some TV stations in a process known as reverse auction. For this process to work, the TV stations must voluntarily relinquish the TV frequencies of interest. And then FCC would resell them in a traditional auction.
However, before a final decision is made on these rules, FCC is seeking public comments.
Commenting on these developments, George Foote, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney LLP, said, “The Commission is taking the right steps with the incentive auctions and they should be approved. Not only does the proposed order open new licensed spectrum for mobile use, it opens white spaces to unlicensed use. The innovative use of unlicensed space could be more important than the re-licensed broadcast spectrum.” He added, “It will be years before the repurposed spectrum is open to mobile use. In any case, simply adding more spectrum for mobile services only slows America’s walk down a bandwidth dead end alley.”
Meanwhile, the TV-station owners have yet to fully understand the compensation package that comes with giving back the airwaves. While the major wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T (News - Alert) (News - Alert) are procuring airwaves in a big way.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman