Spectrum Auctions: Promoting More Mobile Market Competition . . . or Less?

New America Foundation
Thursday, November 21, 2013
09:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

There has long been a tension between the broader public interest in conducting spectrum auctions as a means of promoting competition, innovation, and consumer welfare and using auctions as a one-time source of revenue for the U.S. Treasury. This policy forum will discuss and debate the purpose and impact of auctions, especially the issue of spectrum aggregation limits under consideration by the FCC for upcoming TV band and AWS-3 auctions.

In the Spectrum Reform Act of 2012, Congress authorized the FCC to hold a voluntary "incentive auction" of TV band spectrum and mandated additional auctions as well. Congress earmarked the first $7 billion in net revenues from these auctions to help finance FirstNet, an interoperable, nationwide public safety network. Congress also explicitly left the FCC with its traditional discretion to adopt rules, including spectrum aggregation limits, that serve the public interest more broadly.

Although spectrum caps were a core component of the FCC's mobile competition policy during the 1990s, these policies were discontinued during the Bush years. However, earlier this year the Justice Department's Antitrust Division formally recommended that the FCC consider reimposing upfront spectrum aggregation limits prior to the upcoming auctions, especially for low-band (TV) spectrum.

To what degree can the largest carriers use auctions to foreclose competitors from the wireless broadband market? Do spectrum-aggregation limits promote competition? Do limits decrease revenue - or increase revenue by increasing participation by smaller disruptive players? Does the Obama Administration fully support the Department of Justice's findings? These and related questions will be addressed by our distinguished group of current and former government officials, economists, and mobile carrier and consumer advocates.

Keynote Speakers:
Rep. Anna Eshoo (invited)
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, House Energy & Commerce Committee

Sen. Jerry Moran (invited)
United States Senator (R-Kansas)

Tom Power
Deputy CTO for Telecommunications, The White House (OSTP)

Reed Hundt
CEO, Coalition for Green Capital and former Chairman, FCC

Hon. Chip Pickering
Partner, Capital Partners, LLP and former Vice Chairman, House Energy & Commerce Committee

Featured Speakers:
Lawrence Krevor
V.P. for Legal and Government Affairs, Sprint Corp.

John Marsh
V.P. for Federal Regulatory Affairs, AT&T

Eric Graham
Senior V.P. for Strategic Relations, C-Spire

Matt Wood
Policy Director, Free Press

Fred Campbell
Director, Communications Law & Innovation Project, Competitive Enterprise Institute

Mark Cooper
Research Director, Consumer Federation of America

George Ford
Chief Economist, Phoenix Center

Peter Cramton
Professor of Economics, University of Maryland

Michael Calabrese
Director, Wireless Future Project, Open Technology Institute, New America Foundation

To RSVP for the event:

For questions, contact Kirsten Holtz at New America at (202) 735-2806 or [email protected]