CTIA Offers Own Timetable for FCC Auction Action

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Wireless companies have proposed a timeline for the Federal Communications Commission to reclaim and re-auction spectrum from broadcasters and governments users to feed the country's voracious appetitive for spectrum.

To feed those hungry hoards, CTIA The Wireless Association suggested in letters to the relevant agencies, it will take "immediate action by the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration ('NTIA') is needed in partnership with stakeholders such as CTIA and its members, in the shadow of the second anniversary of the National Broadband Plan." The plan, which set a target date of freeing up 300 MHz of spectrum by 2015, was released March 17, 2010.

The two-page list of dates, part of what CTIA says is a blueprint for action, includes a rulemaking proposal on forward incentive auctions by May 2012 and an order by March 26, 2013.

CTIA wants the first auction -- in which broadcasters offer up spectrum and the FCC chooses the lowest bidder -- to be completed by Jan. 7, 2014, and the second auction, in which that reclaimed spectrum is sold to the highest bidder, to be completed by Oct. 14, 2014.

CTIA concedes they are aggressive targets, but says an accelerated timetable is necessary. It also wants the FCC to publish a schedule and deadlines similar to that offered up by CTIA.

The National Association of Broadcasters suggested that CTIA had left out one red letter date. "Conveniently, CTIA left off its FCC list of proposed timetables the most important of all," said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton, "a deadline for a complete inventory of warehoused spectrum being hoarded by CTIA members."

FCC Wireless Bureau chief Rick Kaplan said last week that coming up with the rules of the road for spectrum reclamation and re-auction and station repacking would be a complex and difficult task. A source said the FCC will likely hold workshops on various issues including repacking and interference before coming up with its own blueprint.

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