Wireless technology company Qualcomm tells Congress that
voluntary incentive auctions will be a win-win-win-win proposition.
According to written testimony for a House Communications
Subcommittee hearing on incentive auctions, the winners will be broadcasters
and other sellers, wireless companies who buy the spectrum and would not be
able to get enough spectrum by negotiating with each broadcaster individually,
the Federal Treasury which will get "significant revenues," and the
American public, which wants mobile devices that work whenever and wherever
they want them to.
Qualcomm VP, government affairs, Dean Brenner, who is
scheduled to deliver that testimony at the hearing, says that the private
sector can help and is helping by deploying new technologies and address the
spectrum crunch -- the FCC predicts 2014 mobile data traffic could be 35 times
2009 levels -- and that the government is working to free up under-utilized
government spectrum. But he says there still need to be voluntary incentive
auctions to get access to more licensed spectrum currently in broadcaster
Brenner plans to tell the subcommittee that no buyer or
seller should be forced to participate, but that unless Congress changes the
law to allow for compensating broadcasters for volunteering spectrum,
"there is no way for the FCC to get the spectrum out of the hands of the
sellers who are willing to sell and into the hands of the mobile broadband
Brenner is arguing both for his company and for a
consortium of companies including Apple, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel and others,
"fierce competitors" he says all agree on three things: "First,
the spectrum crunch is real. Second, more licensed spectrum is necessary to
solve the spectrum crunch. And, third, authorizing the FCC to conduct voluntary
incentive auctions is essential to solve the spectrum crunch."
Qualcomm has some experience in getting broadcasters to
give up spectrum for mobile wireless. It got a swath of spectrum in
advance of the DTV transition to launch a mobile video service, FLO TV, and
paid some broadcasters to clear off their channels early.
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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.