Matsui Praises Broadcasters for BAS Compromise

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Spectrum Caucus and member of the Communications Subcommittee, gave broadcasters credit Wednesday for helping free up spectrum for the AWS-3 auction, which starts Thursday.

In a speech to the Americas Spectrum Conference in Washington, Matsui gave out various plaudits for those who helped tee up the spectrum for reclamation.

"The National Association of Broadcasters also stepped up and assisted with the transition process by allowing the sharing of spectrum between broadcast auxiliary services and those DoD systems forced to relocate."

Broadcasters use that spectrum for electronic newsgatherers (ENG) including helicopter shots, and for studio-to-transmitter links that deliver a signal to rural and remote areas.

In the AWS-3 (advanced wireless services) auction, 65 MHz of spectrum is up for bid, part of a congressional—and White House—mandate to free up wireless spectrum for mobile broadband.

It will be the largest amount of spectrum auctioned since the FCC's 2008 700 MHz auction.

AWS-3 will be the second of three spectrum auctions mandated by Congress to fund the FirstNet interoperable broadband network, as well as local first responders, advanced 911, R&D, and deficit reduction.

The first auction, or H block spectrum, collected $1.564 billion toward that goal (FirstNet alone is $7 billion), but the FCC is already predicting that the AWS-3 auction will raise most if not all of that $7 billion, putting less pressure on the third auction, the broadcast incentive auction, scheduled for 2016.

In her speech, Matsui cited the expectation that the AWS-3 auction could pay for all of FirstNet, pointing out that it would indeed "help alleviate financial pressure" on the incentive auction.

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.