FCC Creates Incentive Auction Task Force

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The Federal Communications Commission has created a new incentive auction task force, overseen by former Wireless Bureau chief Ruth Milkman.

At the agency's public meeting Wednesday, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski announced the effort to coordinate what he conceded was a highly complex, challenging task -- the implementing legislation is over 100 pages.

That task, according to a highly placed FCC source, will include info gathering on issues like repacking and interference -- look for workshops on those and other issues -- as well as multiple rulemaking proposals that will spread over months.

The chairman called it an unprecedented multi-bureau, multi-office effort. "It is important that it be a coordinated, organized, efficient and streamlined effort." He said the task force is currently going over the legislation and organizing an implementation plan.

Genachowksi said that the statute creates a number of challenging and difficult issues, though he did not elaborate. He said that the effort was still "very much in the planning stage."

While the FCC wants to reclaim 120 MHz of spectrum from broadcasters as part of that incentive auction process, among the challenges in the bill may be the requirements to coordinate spectrum issues with Canada and Mexico that could reduce that available spectrum to 80 MHz or less.

Asked at a press conference after the meeting whether that 120 MHz was still the goal, Genachowski said he did not have an estimate, but did say he was concerned that the legislation contains provisions that "will constrain us from maximizing the spectrum recovered."

He said it will all be about engineering working within the constraints of the legislation.

But he did say that at the end of the process, he was anticipating "when the incentive auctions of the TV bands was complete," the result would be "a healthy broadcast sector and a strong, robust, competitive and world-leading mobile industry."

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