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Republicans Seek Information on Future FCC Spectrum Auctions

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) (Image credit: U.S. Senate Photography Officer)

Top Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee are pressing FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to provide information on future spectrum auction opportunities, as well policy reforms that could be needed to ensure auction rules maximize spectrum use and further next-generation technologies.

In asking for the information, ranking member Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Communications Subcommittee ranking member John Thune (R-S.D.) pointed out that under her leadership, and that of her Republican predecessor, the Federal Communications Commission had auctioned hundreds of MHz of valuable spectrum for 5G — that includes C-band and 3.45-GHz spectrum.

They pointed out that the FCC‘s authority to conduct those and any future auctions expires September 30 and wanted to know what would happen if that authority were not extended.

The senators sought answers to the following questions:

“Please respond to the following questions to help inform our deliberations:

1.) “Congress has granted frequency-specific, extended statutory authority for auctions to the FCC in some instances. Please detail the specific auction authority the FCC will retain after the expiration of the general auction authority.

2.) “What spectrum auctions are pending or in the rulemaking process? When will those auctions be completed?

3.) “What statutory tools, beyond auction authority, do you believe would improve the FCC’s ability to make additional spectrum available for auction in the future?“

4.) “What specific frequencies, if any, do you believe are good candidates for auction that the FCC does not currently have the authority to conduct following the September 2022 expiration date?

5.) “What policy reforms can be made to spectrum auction rules to promote international competitiveness, maximize spectrum use efficiency, and foster the rapid deployment of next-generation technologies?” ■

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.