Week ahead: House panel to debate spectrum policy

HOUSE TO TAKE ON SPECTRUM: The House Energy and Commerce Communications subcommittee has a hearing on spectrum issues Wednesday. It comes as part of of a series of discussions on how the airwaves should be used, against the backdrop of intense lobbying by the wireless and tech industries to reallocate them through incentive auctions. The National Association of Broadcasters says it will not fight incentive auctions as long as they are truly voluntary. 

Among the issues under consideration, according to a copy of the majority memo obtained by The Hill: "How does additional spectrum for wireless broadband equate to jobs and investment in the U.S. economy? How much revenue can an incentive auction raise for deficit reduction? How much additional spectrum could it make available for broadband? What is the best structure for an incentive auction? What safeguards should be a part of the auction to ensure the continued viability of over-the-air broadcasting? What lessons were learned from the DTV transition?"

Witnesses include Christopher Guttman-McCabe, vice President, Regulatory Affairs, CTIA; Michelle Connolly, associate professor of the practice, Department of Economics, Duke University; Dean Brenner, vice president, Government Affairs, Qualcomm Inc.; Harold Feld, legal director, Public Knowledge; Todd F. Schurz, president and CEO, Schurz Communications; Bert Ellis, president, Titan Broadcast Management.

MERGER: An initial comment deadline for filings on the AT&T merger is Tuesday. Groups on both sides will hold press conferences that day to explain their arguments. AT&T will have a chance to counter the opposition arguments at a separate filing deadline.

DATA SECURITY: Two companies under fire for major data breaches have agreed to appear at a House Energy and Commerce hearing this week after declining to show when the panel discussed the issue just weeks earlier. 

Sony and Epsilon will each appear at a data security hearing on Thursday. According to an aide to Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), head of the Trade subcommittee, Sony will be represented by Tim Schaaff, president of Sony Network Entertainment International. Epsilon will be represented by General Counsel Jeanette Fitzgerald. 

Ken Johnson, an aide to Bono Mack, said: "While Chairman Bono Mack remains critical of Sony’s initial handling of the data breaches, she also is appreciative that the company has now agreed to testify. The chairman firmly believes that the lessons learned from both the Sony and Epsilon experiences can be instructive and guide us as we develop comprehensive data protection legislation. We expect to introduce that legislation, which will provide new safeguards for American consumers, in the next few weeks."

VOTE ON PUBLIC SAFETY NETWORK COMING SOON: The Senate Commerce Committee is preparing for a markup next week of Chairman Jay Rockefeller's (D-W.Va.) spectrum bill. Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) are working on an amendment designed to ensure rural areas benefit from the legislation. Rockefeller generally has support from ranking member Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), while a handful of committee members still have reservations about the bill.