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Rockefeller Preps Bill to Authorize Spectrum Payments

Senator Jay
Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) plans to introduce a bill to give the FCC
authority to pay broadcasters to give up spectrum for wireless
broadband, Rockefeller's office said Wednesday.

That follows
the announcement Tuesday of a similar bill introduced in the House by
Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Me.).

legislation will build on the policies in the recent Presidential
Memorandum ‘Unleashing the Wireless Broadband Revolution'  by providing
the Federal Communications Commission with the authority
to hold incentive auctions," said Rockefeller in announcing the
bill-in-progress. He was referring to the president's recent official
show of support for the FCC's spectrum reclamation proposal.

legislation will help put this valuable resource into the hands of
companies that can create innovative services for American consumers and
businesses," he said. "This proposal will not require
the return of spectrum from existing commercial users, but will instead
provide them with a voluntary opportunity to realize a portion of
auction revenues if they wish to facilitate putting spectrum to new and
productive uses."

Kerry/Snowe bill included a spectrum fee that would essentially tax
broadcasters who remained on the spectrum. Rockefeller's office had not
returned a call for comment at press time on whether
Rockefeller planned to include a spectrum fee in his bill.

said that in addition to the incentive auction authority, his bill, the
Public Safety Spectrum Wireless Innovation Act, would set aside an
additional 10 Mhz of spectrum for a national,
interoperable public safety network, which the FCC has been trying to
create for years.

administration has given the commission until October to provide an
inventory of who is using what spectrum.

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.