FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, in requesting a 2013 budget of more than $346 million, detailed the work the FCC is doing, including preparing for spectrum incentive auctions.
Federal Communications Chairman
Julius Genachowski, after putting up his dukes with CTIA President Steve Largent
at the CTIA Wireless 2012 show in New Orleans May 8, embraced a different
opportunity to detail all that the FCC has accomplished of late and what it has
planned. On May 9, he presented the FCC's 2013 budget to the U.S. Senate
Committee on Appropriations' Subcommittee on Financial Services and General
Basically adjusting the 2012 budget
for inflation, Genachowski asked for a 2 percent increase to $346,782,000.
But first, he ran through some facts
and figures, nearly all of them related to the 2009 National Broadband Plan,
the nation's need for more spectrum or both.
In February, Congress approved
legislation allowing the FCC to conduct "incentive auctions" to sell
underutilized spectrum to meet the nation's growing mobile broadband needs.
Genachowski called these an opportunity to "unleash vitally needed
spectrum" as well as one to raise billions of dollars for deficit
reduction. Over the last two decades, spectrum auctions, he said, have raised
more than $50 billion for the Treasurythough economists regard the value
created by the auctions as being closer to $500 billion.
"Incentive auctions are
unprecedented," Genachowski continued. "The U.S. will be the first
country in the world to conduct them. It will be a complex task affecting major
parts of our economy and involving many challenging questions of economics and
The need for spectrum
was behind AT&T's controversial, and ultimately unsuccessful, bid last year
to acquire T-Mobile. More recently, it's the motivator behind Verizon Wireless'
also controversial partnership with SpectrumCo, a joint venture between several
major cable companies. During a Senate Subcommittee inquiry into the Verizon deal, Joel Kelsey, a policy adviser
with the pro-consumer group the Free Press, testified that the "trend
toward a duopoly in the wireless market would be exacerbated by putting close
to a third of the nation's broadband spectrum, measured by value, into the
hands of Verizon."
Just as Sprint fought the AT&T
deal, Sprint and T-Mobile have been critical of the Verizon deal, if at times
only for the vagueness of the details that Verizon and SpectrumCo have made
About the only thing
that the nation's top-four carriers agree on is
the need for more spectrum. And on this point Genachowski offered good news.
The FCC, he said, is "moving
ahead in partnership with NTIA [the National Telecommunications &
Information Administration] to test spectrum sharing between commercial and
government uses in the 1755-1780 MHz band, a band of particular interest to
In an address
at CTIA May 8, Genachowski offered
more details regarding spectrum sharing, explaining that the FCC's work with
the NTIA could enable the FCC to auction paired spectrum in the next three
years. He continued:
the huge amount of money and time it would take to move all of the federal
systemsestimated at $18 billion over at least a decadesharing is the most
promising way forward before deadlines in the Spectrum Act will compel us
to auction the 2155-2180 band unpaired. Paired with 2155-2180 MHz, it would
extend the AWS band by an additional 50 megahertz. Just this past Friday,
T-Mobile, working with CTIA, filed an experimental application to test
the sharing concept."
In the interest of expediting
spectrum sales, the FCC has also eliminated more than 200 outdated rules and
other unnecessary requirements that could slow things down, he also pointed
Leading up to his
budget request, Genachowski wrote that the FCC has additionally helped to
reduce bill shock; launched a nationwide database to
help curb smartphone theft; issued recommendations to address botnets, Internet
route hijacking and domain name fraudthree threats to cyber-securityand more,
and done so with the lowest number of full-time employees in the last 10 years.
"Few, if any, federal
agencies," Genachowski noted with pride, "deliver a higher return on
investment than the FCC."