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More Democrats Push FCC on Low Band

Add Democratic Sens. Ed Markey (Mass.), Al Franken (Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.) to the list of legislators asking the FCC to use the broadcast incentive auction to reduce the concentration of low-band spectrum.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has already proposed setting aside 30 MHz in the forward wireless auction for competitive carriers from dominant low-band spectrum holders AT&T and Verizon, though T-Mobile and some advocacy groups had pushed for 40 MHz to make room for even more potential competition.

The FCC is also proposing to set aside some of the best low-band spectrum for the reserve, which means spectrum without potential impairments from broadcasters and wireless operators sharing the same or adjacent channels in nearby markets.

In a letter Wednesday, the senators did not mention any particular size reserve, but said as the FCC "moves toward a final vote [planned for July 16]," it should "continue to evaluate its auction rules to ensure they prevent excessive concentration of spectrum among the nation's largest wireless providers," which they pointed out meant AT&T and Verizon.

They said that the auction legislation they helped produce was meant to ensure competition in the wireless market and avoid excessive concentration. "The auction represents an historic opportunity to decrease this concentration of low-band spectrum.

The letter came the same day as one from House members essentially asking for the same thing.

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.