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Editorial: Feds: Give It Up

We were glad to see not only a compromise budget bill last week—which could prevent another of those 11th-hour government shut-down stand-offs that do so much to elevate our reputation for enlightened self-government (that was sarcasm)—but a federal spectrum auction bill attached to the compromise as well.

Usually we’re all for keeping budget bills free from entangling alliances, but this is one that will raise money and put federal spectrum into the pipeline.

Broadcasters have had their spectrum home downsized once already—in the DTV transition—and another round is coming thanks to the incentive auction.

It is time to get government agency spectrum holders, such as the Department of Defense, to give it up for the sake of wireless broadband.

That bill may have to be combined with one incentivizing those agencies by letting them share in the proceeds of the auction as broadcasters are doing—something FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has long advocated. Nobody is looking to volunteer spectrum, which could mean sharing or relocation, both of which are harder than the status quo.