Genachowski Expects Incentive Auctions to Become Worldwide Tool

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski made a pitch for more mobile
and unlicensed spectrum in Spain
Monday, and while he blamed the lack of spectrum on inefficiency, he did not
directly blame broadcasters, saying it was "often" not their fault.

In a speech to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona,
Genachowski said that he expected the FCC's just-approved authority to hold
incentive auctions to pay broadcasters for giving up spectrum would become a
worldwide tool.

He said the FCC would take "concrete steps" in the "near
future," to begin implementing the incentive auction legislation.

The chairman made a pitch for more efficient use of government spectrum, saying
that it was taking to long to reclaim government spectrum -- he said the
traditional timetable is "untenable" -- and that serious testing of
government sharing of its spectrum with commercial users needed to begin.

On the commercial side, he said, "inefficiently used spectrum often isn't
the fault of existing licensees, but instead traces back to government
allocation decisions that predated auctions of spectrum for flexible use."

The chairman pointed to some provisions in the just-passed incentive auction
legislation that would limit the potential benefits of the auction, apparently
referring to conditions that limit the FCC's ability to put conditions on
auction bidders. He also said there were conditions "that could reduce the
amount of spectrum we would otherwise recover for mobile broadband." It
was unclear whether or not he meant the Canadian and Mexican border protections
that will likely reduce the FCC's initial target of 120 MHz from broadcasters.

An FCC spokesperson had not returned a request for comment at press time.

International Telecommunications Union Secretary General Dr. Hamadoun Touré last
week called on governments to do what they can to help mobile broadband
operators aroundthe world deploy next-generation LTE wireless service.

Genachowski in his speech said the government could do two things, freeing up
more spectrum and strengthening incentives for investment in mobile

He argued the FCC has done both, pushing for the incentive auctions to free up
spectrum and spurring investment through reforming tower and antenna citing and
easing access to utility poles. as well as not prohibiting usage-based pricing.
The chairman also said the "aim" of network neutrality rule framework
the FCC codified in December 2010 was to incentivize investment throughout the
mobile economy, and that has happened. He did not mention that most of the
network neutrality rules were not applied to mobile broadband.

But while the chairman was on the same page with ITU on promoting broadband, he
reiterated his opposition to creating a new international regulatory body to
govern the Internet -- there are fears, expressedrepeatedly by FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell -- that the upcoming
renegotiating of an international telecom treaty could result in an ITU-centric
Internet governance model. Genachowski agrees that the multistakeholder
approach to the 'net is best.

Some have proposed creating a new international regulatory body to govern the
Internet, replacing the longstanding multi-stakeholder governance model that
has enabled the Internet to flourish as an open platform for communication and
innovation," he told his audience. "If adopted, these proposals would
be devastating to the future of the Internet, including the mobile Internet,
and the U.S.
government has consistently and strongly opposed such proposals."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.