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FCC To Start Tackling Broadcast Spectrum Issues This Year

The FCC has released its broadband
implementation schedule
. The release was announced by FCC Chief of Staff
Edward Lazarus, who said it would include a 2010 start for its spectrum
reclamation plans, though Lazarus said the commission is sensitive to
broadcasters ongoing and important role.

That came in a speech at the Media Institute in Washington Thursday.

Saying that it is time to reduce talk to practical results,
Lazarus told his media exec audience that the schedule includes a 2010 start
for more than 60 rulemakings on broadcast spectrum, auctioning of the D-Block,
mobile roaming, gateway devices, pole attachments, broadband data, special
access, rights-of-way, wholesale competition, and many, many others.

He conceded that some stakeholders may not like the order in
which the plan was being implemented, but that at least by seeing the agenda
all at once, they would also see that items they do like are on there as well.
"Seeing the array of proceedings laid out together is a powerful reminder
of the scope and vision of the broadband plan," he said.

He also said, perhaps somewhat hopefully, that "almost
everyone could see strong positives counterbalancing, and even swamping, the

The commission has said that there will be effectively
monthly proposed rulemakings and inquiries over the next 12-16 months.

Lazarus says the agenda will be sensitive to the past and
present, as well as a sense of its own fallibility.

On the issue of spectrum, Lazarus said that the
recommendations for freeing up spectrum will echo that sensitivity.

Lazarus said the recommendations for freeing hundreds of
megahertz of spectrum for wireless use "include no flash cuts, but also no
compromise on the ultimate goal."

He said the future demands that the FCC get that new
spectrum. "But a key mechanism for obtaining additional spectrum, the
incentive auctions that would allow broadcasters, on a voluntary basis, to give
back some spectrum while sharing in the proceeds of spectrum auctions, is a
classic example of modulating between the competing calls of present and
future." He said the plan recognizes and will support "the extremely
valuable services that broadcasters continue to deliver to the nation."

He did not put a timetable on concluding the rulemakings,
but said "we intend to get to all of it, and as expeditiously as we

Lazarus was asked after the speech to react to the court
decision overturning the FCC's BitTorrent decision. He said it had only been
two days and the FCC was still considering its options, but he said he remained
convinced the FCC has the authority to implement the broadband plan. "At
the end of the day, we're going to move forward with our policy agenda. We
don't believe that court decision deprives us of the ultimate authority to do
so." He said the process would not be a two-day process--the decision was
rendered Apr. 6--but that it would also not be a long process. "This is
something we need to make decisions about relatively soon."

He would not answer a question about whether the FCC would
reclassify broadband service under Title II.

The FCC will obviously be putting a lot of its
attention on implementing the plan, he said, but not to the exclusion of
the other issues and responsibilities on its plate.