FCC Dem: 2015 airwave auction ‘not a train wreck’

The Federal Communications Commission’s complex and highly anticipated 2015 airwave auction is “absolutely not a train wreck,” according to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.

ADVERTISEMENT
Speaking at a Politico event on mobile technology on Thursday, Clyburn said the FCC “must be vigilant” as it prepares for the first-of-its-kind auction next year.

That auction will involve the agency purchasing airwaves from television broadcasters, repackaging those airwaves and then selling them to spectrum-hungry wireless companies looking to boost their cellphone networks.

Much of the attention surrounding the auction has focused on whether the FCC would limit how much spectrum certain wireless companies — namely industry giants AT&T and Verizon — can purchase through the auction.

At its May open meeting, the FCC voted 3-2 to limit those companies’ participation.

The limitations were less than those originally proposed by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler after Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel pushed for lessened limits in the hopes of driving up the auction’s revenue, which will go toward funding a nationwide network for first responders.

On the other side of the auction, some are worried about the incentives TV broadcasters have to show up to the auction and sell their airwaves at all.

On Thursday, Clyburn touted the agencies work to engage broadcasters ahead of the auction.

Currently, the agency is setting up “educational exchanges” to inform broadcasters about their options for participating in the auction, which include selling back their airwaves and sharing their airwaves with other broadcasters.

“Once we continue in that engagement, and once they learn more, then they will have an opportunity to make a decision,” she said.

She expressed optimism about the auction, calling it “an opportunity to make efficient both the broadcast space and the wireless space.” 

More in Technology

FCC collects millions in fines over 911 outage

Read more »