Consumer Electronics Association president Gary Shapiro put in a plug for spectrum auctions as a big revenue raiser in a letter to the White House and House and Senate leaders Monday about the debt limit discussions.
The U.S. must raise that limit by Aug. 2 or face defaulting on its financial obligations, sending interest rates climbing and generally doing a number on the slowly recovering economy.
Shapiro, pointing out that he is the author of best-seller "The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream, "gave the President some policy advice on what the administration could do to create an environment "conducive to entrepreneurism, investment, and innovation" that will have businesses investing and hiring.
Number 4. on a list of six suggestions was "Allowing the FCC to hold voluntary auctions of our nation's underused spectrum." Shapiro said he recognized he was preaching to the choir with some of his suggestions and "number 4" qualifies since the president has come out in favor of those auctions.
Shapiro pointed out the auctions could generate an estimated S30 billion in revenue, putting the figure in bold for emphasis. He has been a vocal critic of broadcasters as squatters on spectrum more valuable in other hands--specifically wireless broadband.
During a slide presentation on the debt discussions a couple of weeks ago, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), one of the Republican point people in the budget discussions, also cited those billions in potential revenue from a spectrum auction.
But those auction proceeds are not all going to the treasury by any means, particularly if the White House has anything to do with it. Unless the FCC wants a much bigger fight than it currently has on its hands, broadcasters need to get their cut--which will be in the billions--as compensation for moving off the spectrum, and billions more need to go toward a broadband emergency response network and mobile R&D, both of which the White House is backing.