According to sources inside and outside the FCC, the draft rulemaking proposal on spectrum incentive auctions seeks input on whether and how to put device interoperability conditions on the sale of reclaimed lower 700 MHz broadcast spectrum.
The FCC put such conditions on auction of reclaimed upper 700 MHz spectrum reclaimed in the first DTV transition, which Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) pointed out in a Hill hearing on mobile apps Wednesday led to the rise of Android.
One source said the NPRM asks questions that address interoperability concerns, but that the goal is for the spectrum to be device-interoperable.
In addition, according to multiple FCC sources, the NPRM does not propose conditions on who can bid on that reclaimed broadcast spectrum, which would have been tough to do given the statutory language. An FCC source said the NPRM does not propose eligibility conditions on participation, but that is because they are getting to that issue through the a item, also teed up for a Sept. 28 vote, proposing to rethink the FCC's "policies governing mobile spectrum holdings," which could include what represents too much concentration of spectrum holdings.
So, while the NPRM says that anyone can participate, a separate item could limit how much spectrum a wireless company could buy, essentially getting the same result. That approach squares with the legislative language in the spectrum incentive auction bill, which prevents the FCC from restricting eligibility but does allow it to come up with general rules about spectrum aggregation.