Genachowski shoots down broadcast 'hoarding' claim: 'Not true'

The broadcasters have charged this year, citing news reports, that the cable and wireless industries might be sitting on airwaves rather than deploying them. 

TV stations, who are being asked to give up spectrum so it can be repurposed to mobile companies, have questioned the premise of a "spectrum crunch."

Genachowski said its time for Congress to give the agency incentive auction authority—and encouraged haste. Spectrum inventory legislation is not needed in advance of an auction bill, Genachowski suggested, citing the FCC's own inventory data as reliable. 

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"Our inventory confirms that there are no hidden vacant lots of commercial airwaves, but that there are a few areas well-suited to mobile broadband, such as the TV and MSS bands. We certainly know more than enough about existing spectrum uses to move forward with a mechanism that would simply bring new market-based options to these bands," he said. 

That's undercuts a key broadcast argument that Congress should move on an inventory before any moving on more aggressive airwave policies.

The broadcasters have said they are okay with the FCC's incentive auction proposal — which would offer rewards to TV stations who agree to auction off their spectrum — as long as participation is truly voluntary. 

Genachowski disposed of a competing proposal to allow broadcasters to sublease spectrum rather than auction. 

"This won’t solve the spectrum crisis because it won’t free up contiguous blocks of spectrum over broad geographic areas, which is what’s needed for mobile broadband," he said. 

In a speech that was tough on TV stations, Genachowski reserved a few friendly words for the broadcasters at the end. 

"I would like to acknowledge the many individual broadcasters who have come forward and rolled up their sleeves to work through these and other issues in a pragmatic and constructive manner," he said. 

The speech came on the first anniversary of the National Broadband Plan, which heavily emphasized mobile connectivity. The Obama administration has backed the incentive auction proposal and says it is key to the president's goal of connecting all Americans to the wireless Internet.