Senators Urge Common Sense Approach for Spectrum Management Reform (1/10/12)
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 | Comments

Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Commerce subcommittee on communications, technology, and the Internet, along with Sens. Olympia Snowe, Mark Warner, and Jerry Moran urged Senate leadership to consider a commonsense approach to spectrum management reform that will promote better use of wireless spectrum and maintain the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)’s authority to allocate spectrum.

“Modernizing our nation’s radio spectrum planning, management, and coordination activities to better meet the future spectrum needs of all users is a difficult undertaking which deals with very complex issues that demand flexibility,” the senators wrote in a letter. “We must suppress our desire to be overly prescriptive to derive some predetermined outcome and because of the ever-changing landscape allow the FCC to set the proper course, over the long term, to maximize the full economic and social benefit that wireless spectrum offers.”

The senators said they are concerned about proposals to limit the FCC’s authority to carefully design future spectrum auctions. “Some have proposed prohibiting the agency from imposing eligibility conditions on auction participants,” the letter said. “While at first this may seem appropriate to ensure an open auction where all can take part and would be in a market with perfect competition, upon closer examination, this could have a deterring effect on fostering competition and maximizing auction proceeds to pay for a public-safety network and deficit reduction. Maintaining the FCC’s current range of tools for structuring a spectrum auction, as prescribed by the statute, provides the agency with the requisite flexibility to attract a sufficient number of bidders to ensure the competitive bidding necessary to maximize auction revenues and that the market for spectrum remains competitive for companies of all sizes.”

The letter also promotes maintaining unlicensed spectrum and using technology to help ensure spectrum is used efficiently. In March, Sens. Snowe and Kerry introduced the Reforming Airwaves by Developing Incentives and Opportunistic Sharing (RADIOS) Act, which sets the foundation for meeting the increasing demand for spectrum through better planning, coordination and efficient use of spectrum resources. The legislation would also release more spectrum for broadband use through voluntary incentive auctions.

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