Wheeler Confirmed to FCC as Industry Readies for Auction

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2013-10-30 Print this article Print

"This isn't something that's going to happen in the first couple weeks," Harold Feld, senior vice president of public advocacy group Public Knowledge, told eWEEK. "The expectation is that staff has been working on this, and Wheeler has been keeping up to date—it's not like he's starting from scratch. But they're also not his decisions alone. He has to get a majority of the commissioners to agree to his package, and there are a lot of stakeholders with interests."

Feld went on to say that multiple items will need to be addressed—as the spectrum cap matter is just a small piece of it—and each presents very complicated issues. On top of that, there's the matter of the auction itself and how the bidding will work.

"It's the first time we've done something like this—it's the first time anyone in the world has done something like this—so it's not like you take the usual rules and tweak them. You have to make up something new. ... It's important to appreciate the complication here," said Feld.

A very best-case scenario, he estimated, is that an order—a rough draft—will be circulating by January 2014.

While the spectrum cap issue has been split along party lines, much else about the auctions isn't.

"It's really hard to know where the commissioners will split," said Feld.

When asked his feelings about Wheeler, Feld offered two points.

"I don't know him personally, but people whose opinions I value, not just as people but as public advocates, say, 'Tom Wheeler's going to be his own guy, not an industry stooge.' So I believe that."

His second point: Wheeler won't be worried about getting on the bad side of a company or carrier.

"He's already made his pile, and his next stop is retirement," said Feld, "as opposed to being worried about the revolving door."

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.


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