Blair Levin stated during the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council’s Broadband and Social Justice in support of incentive auctions as described in S.28, the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act. The Act allows broadcast stations that voluntarily give up some of their spectrum to collect part of the bid proceeds, while the remainders of the proceeds are placed into funds that would be used to build out broadband facilities in rural areas as well as fund an interoperable public safety network.
Mr. Levin indicates that he has no problem with the Federal Communications Commission exercising flexibility in allowing its staff to “develop options and then allow the political leadership, both at the FCC and the Congress to apply their policy preferences.”
The bill specifically allows the FCC to “determine, at its discretion, what new use that the Commission determines, in its discretion, are attributable to the licensee’s relinquished spectrum usage.”
My take on the language is that it’s too vague. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation could tighten this bill up by amending the language to reflect the specific uses of the freed up spectrum i.e., mobile wireless telecommunications, and that the FCC will not prevent any wireless company with the technical and financial resources from participating in an incentive auction.
Why is this important? Because it ensures that all competitors are able to obtain this resource so that they can compete in the wireless market and provide consumers additional choice. You can’t call an auction a competitive mechanism for distributing spectrum if you are not ensuring each company has a chance to bid for spectrum.