Washington -- According to various reports, the White House
will issue a presidential memorandum in support of the Federal Communications Commission's
plan to reclaim broadband spectrum from government agencies and commercial
users, including broadcasters.
As part of the National Broadband Plan, the FCC wants to
free up 500 MHz of spectrum for mobile broadband use.
Lawrence Summers, director of the White House's Economic
Policy Council, is slated to speak at the New America Foundation June 28 on the
administration's views on "the importance of unleashing private
investment, job creation and economic growth through ongoing technological
development in the Internet ecosystem."
The New York Times
reported that Summers is expected to announce the memorandum, which is
essentially a letter of support for that portion of the broadband plan, during
"The Administration's strong actions on wireless
broadband will move us significantly towards sustainable economic success,
robust investment, and global leadership in innovation," said FCC chairman
Julius Genachowski in a statement.
Broadcasters are being asked to voluntarily give up 120 MHz
of their spectrum, and Congress would have to authorize an incentive auction so
the FCC could make it worth broadcasters' while. The White House's support for
freeing up spectrum for broadband is not a big surprise, given the Internet
ecosystem-centric administration, but the memorandum could help get spectrum
inventory moving and indicate to government agencies like the Defense
Department that they will need to work with the National Telecommmunications
& Information Administration, which oversees government spectrum, to help
free up some of theirs.
A bill to require the FCC and NTIA to produce an inventory
of spectrum use and availability has gotten held up in Congress. The memorandum
could light a fire under that effort.
"Expanding broadband is important, and
broadcasters will work constructively with policymakers to help them attain
that objective," said National Association of Broadcasters spokesman
Dennis Wharton. "We appreciate FCC assurances that further reclamation of
broadcast television spectrum will be completely voluntary, and we're convinced
that America can have both the finest broadband and broadcasting system in the
world without jeopardizing the future of free and local TV service to tens of
millions of viewers. We also believe the first priority of Congress ought to be
passage of spectrum inventory legislation that identifies fallow spectrum or
companies that may be 'warehousing' the airwaves."