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CTIA: Govt. and Broadcaster Spectrum Are Needed

Wireless companies told the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction it agrees with its four members who asked the president last week to help clear more federal spectrum for wireless broadband, but said that should be in tandem with getting spectrum back from broadcasters.

In a letter to the committee Tuesday, CTIA members led by Association President Steve Largent said that it was on the same page, but wanted to make sure they knew both actions -- clearing more government spectrum and giving the FCC authority to hold incentive auctions to pay broadcasters to clear off spectrum -- would be needed, while the bipartisan quartet from the bipartisan committee said they support voluntary incentive auctions of broadcast spectrum, which is intended to reclaim up to 120 MHz of spectrum from broadcasters (the president made those auctions part of his stalled jobs bill). But they say more spectrum is needed. "[W]e believe that those auctions will not produce all the spectrum we need to meet our country's growing demand for broadband."

The National Association of Broadcasters continues to argue that it is not opposed to those incentive auctions so long as they are voluntary and leave broadcasters with enough spectrum, coverage area and interference protections to be competitive against new video delivery platforms benefitting from that spectrum reclamation.

The committee is considering the incentive auctions as a way to raise billions for the treasury as it tries to reduce the deficit by over a trillion dollars.