Tech Companies Launch Incentive Auction Lobby

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The Consumer Electronics Association and three other tech associations have banded together to form the High Tech Spectrum Coalition, which will lobby for legislation approving incentive auction authority for the FCC.

That authority would allow the commission to pay broadcasters to clear off their spectrum using funds from auctions of that reclaimed spectrum.

Joining CEA in the coalition are the Information Technology Industry Council, the Semiconductor Industry Association, and the Telecommunications Industry Association, which comprise computer and tech companies with a stake in seeing that spectrum freed up and re-used for advanced services like wireless broadband.

The FCC has proposed freeing up 300 MHz of spectrum for mobile wireless use by 2015, more than a third of that to come from broadcasters, and another 200 MHz by 2020.

"The members of HTSC will work together to seek passage of legislation that would grant the FCC the authority to hold voluntary incentive auctions in order to make additional spectrum available for broadband in the near future," the group said in announcing its formation.

CEA has long pushed for getting more use out of the broadcast spectrum, suggesting it is being overportected and underutilized.

The announcement came the same day that the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing that dealt in part with a bill sponsored by chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) that would authorize an incentive auction to reimburse broadcasters for spectrum reclaimed by the government, but only so long as it was given up voluntarily. Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) have also introduced an incentive auction bill in the House.

Broadcasters have reservations about the spectrum-reclamation effort, citing their need for spectrum for HDTV and mobile digital TV. But they certainly support, and would require, compensation for giving up the spectrum if and when some of them relinquish it voluntarily.

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