FCC on spectrum inventory: Already did it

FCC officials say the agency's spectrum inventory information is adequate for Congress to move forward on auction proposals. The inventory data is all publicly available in the agency's Spectrum Dashboard and License View online features, the officials said. The websites will get an overhaul in the coming days to make them more user-friendly, providing granular, community-level information about spectrum holdings.

The tools "reflect our understanding of where the most significant spectrum opportunities lie," Genachowski said in his letter to Snowe. 

Genachowski cited this baseline inventory data in a speech Wednesday arguing that a brand-new analysis is not needed in advance of auction legislation, which would seek to repurpose spectrum from TV broadcasters to mobile companies. 

"Some have argued that giving the FCC incentive auction authority should wait for a spectrum inventory," Genachowski said. "The good news is that we have already completed a baseline spectrum inventory that tells us more than enough to conclude that incentive auctions are an essential item to add to the FCC’s toolkit."

In response, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) asked for independent verification that certain spectrum licensees are not hoarding the airwaves.

"We would respectfully ask for an independent study to confirm Chairman Genachowski's assurances that spectrum suitable for wireless broadband is not lying fallow, given recent verbatim remarks to the contrary from current FCC licensees," NAB President Gordon Smith said.

The FCC again referred to information it already offers to close the book on calls for more data.  

Agency spokesman Robert Kenny said: "There's good news. We have it. The FCC is an independent agency and we have completed our baseline spectrum inventory."

Some see the FCC's response as a cop out. NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said the FCC statement "is a disappointing response to Congress, which is seeking a thorough spectrum inventory." 

"The issue is not whether the FCC can identify locations and licenses on the spectrum dashboard that has been set aside for specific services. Rather, it is whether specific companies that bought or were given spectrum worth billions have actually deployed it," he said.

An FCC official argued that carriers are required to deploy spectrum as part of their licensing agreements, and so "hoarding" actions would register within that process.