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White House Backs Spectrum Reclamation

The White House is issuing a
presidential memorandum June 28 in support of the FCC's plan to reclaim
broadband spectrum from government agencies and commercial users
including broadcasters.

As part of the national broadband plan,
the FCC wants to free up 500 MHz of spectrum for mobile broadband use.
Summers, director of the White House's Economic Policy Council, is
slated to speak at the New America Foundation June 28 on the
administration's views on "the importance of unleashing private
investment, job creation and economic growth through ongoing
technological development in the Internet ecosystem."

The New
York Times reported that Summers was expected to announce the memorandum,
which is essentially a letter of support for that portion of the
broadband plan, during that speech.

"The Administration's strong
actions on wireless broadband will move us significantly towards
sustainable economic success, robust investment, and global leadership
in innovation," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement.

Broadcasters are being asked to voluntarily give up 120 MHz of
their spectrum, and Congress would have to authorize an incentive
auction so the FCC could make it worth broadcasters' while. The White
House's support for freeing up spectrum for broadband is not a big
surprise, given the Internet ecosystem-centric administration, but the
memorandum could help get spectrum inventory moving and indicate to
government agencies like the Defense Department that they will need to
work with the National Telecommmunications & Information
Administration, which oversees government spectrum, to help free up some
of theirs. A bill to require the FCC and NTIA to produce an inventory
of spectrum use and availability has gotten held up in Congress. The
memorandum could light a fire under that effort.

broadband is important, and broadcasters will work constructively with
policymakers to help them attain that objective," said National
Association of Broadcasters spokesman Dennis Wharton. "We appreciate FCC
assurances that further reclamation of broadcast television spectrum
will be completely voluntary, and we're convinced that America can have
both the finest broadband and broadcasting system in the world without
jeopardizing the future of free and local TV service to tens of millions
of viewers. We also believe the first priority of Congress ought to be
passage of spectrum inventory legislation that identifies fallow
spectrum or companies that may be 'warehousing' the airwaves."