FCC urged to move on public safety plan despite White House rejection

The merits of this strategy have been laid out by Blair Levin, a former FCC official who served as executive director of the project creating the agency's broadband proposals.

"The FCC might as well start tomorrow … and just say, 'We're going to start planning for a commercial auction,' because that's the current law," Levin said. "If Congress wishes to allocate it differently, that's fine. But let's not get to a point a year from now where Congress decides not to do it and we have to wait another year and a half before an auction can be held."

Moving on the auction proposal would give Capitol Hill a deadline for passing legislation to authorize reallocation instead. "If you are a supporter of public safety, it is in your interest that this would happen, because it's the only way to get to the state of urgency that could cause Congress to actually act," Levin said.


Tom Sugrue, vice president for government affairs at T-Mobile, also urged the FCC to move forward as a way to jolt Congress into action. "It's not an attempt to pre-empt the administration or pre-empt Congress. In fact, I would call on the administration to support the FCC in this," he said. T-Mobile favors an auction.

Sugrue noted that a considerable amount of details must be hashed out before an auction could actually be held. He said the proceedings to move ahead were prepared in the spring of last year, but got shelved.

Pro-auction voices within the FCC are also pressuring agency officials to move on this strategy, according to industry sources.

Public safety sources, however, are not warm to the idea. Several public safety advocates — who favor reallocation — said they would not support an FCC effort to move on the auction, even if it is only meant to set a deadline for Capitol Hill.

It's unclear where other reallocation proponents will come down on this plan.

Responding to the prospect, Homeland Security Chairman King told The Hill that "in any event, we're going to move forward as quickly as possible with legislation to reallocate the D Block to public safety."