Genachowski Applauds, With Reservations, Passage of Spectrum Bill


Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski called passed of spectrum incentive auction authority legislation a major achievement, but still has issues with the bill as do many Democrats.

The Republican-backed version of the bill passed Tuesday as part of the payroll tax extension package of must-pass legislation, but the president said he will veto that overall package if it gets to his desk in the current form.

Genachowski pointed to the bill's provision of the FCC with incentive auction authority and its funding of a broadband public safety network as plusses, and he applauded the House, in this case that would be overwhelmingly House Republicans, for those moves.

But like House Democrats, Genachowski is concerned about portions of the bill he said could "tie the agency's hands in ways that could be counterproductive."

He did not specify, but among the Republican-backed portions of the bill was an amendment that would prevent open access or wholesaling conditions on auctioned spectrum, and would limit the FCC's ability to decide who would get to bid on the spectrum.

But the chairman did get specific with one element of the bill: its prohibition on allocating any more of that freed-up spectrum for unlicensed wireless. "Precluding the FCC from adopting innovation-enhancing policies around unlicensed spectrum could threaten U.S. global leadership in spectrum-related innovation," he said in a statement. "The same is true for the bill's restrictions on the Commission's ability to construct band plans and structure auctions in ways that maximize the value of licensed spectrum."