Getting the Incentive Auction Right

The Incentive Auction is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand the benefits of mobile wireless coverage and competition to consumers across the Nation -- particularly consumers in rural areas -- offering more choices of wireless providers, lower prices, and higher quality mobile services.

Getting the Incentive Auction right will revolutionize how spectrum is allocated. By marrying the economics of demand (think wireless providers) with the economics of current spectrum holders (think television broadcasters), the Incentive Auction will allow market forces to determine the highest and best use of spectrum.

In developing such an auction, we must also be guided by the rules of physics. Not all spectrum frequencies are created equal. Spectrum below 1 GHz – such as the Incentive Auction spectrum – has physical properties that increase the reach of mobile networks over long distances. As part of the Incentive Auction process, we will also make available on a nationwide basis spectrum for unlicensed use (think Wi-Fi).

With the increased use of Wi-Fi, this spectrum has also become congested. Opening up more spectrum for unlicensed use provides economic value to businesses and consumers alike. Whether television broadcasters participate in the Incentive Auction will be purely voluntary, but participation in the Incentive Auction does not mean they have to leave the TV business. New channel-sharing technologies offer broadcasters a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an infusion of cash to expand their business model and explore new innovations, while continuing to provide their traditional services to consumers.

We will ensure that broadcasters have all of the information they need to make informed business decisions about whether and how to participate. On April 17, I provided my fellow Commissioners a draft Report and Order that will determine many significant issues and policy decisions related to the Incentive Auction. The Commission will also make additional decisions to implement details pertaining to the Incentive Auction in the coming months.

Getting the Incentive Auction Right FCC Chairman Wheeler Circulates Incentive Auction Item (Multichannel News) Here’s how Washington is preparing for a future of wireless everything (Washington Post) Regulators Propose Limited Set-Aside of TV Airwaves for Unlicensed Use (Revere Digital) FCC chairman regrets that AT&T and Verizon control the best spectrum (ars technica) Welcome to the spectrum-dome: FCC lays groundwork for its controversial incentive auction (GigaOm) FCC Moves Ahead on Plans to Hold Wireless Spectrum Auction (AdWeek) FCC To Vote On Auction Rules On May 15 (TVNewsCheck) Welcome to the spectrum-dome: FCC lays groundwork for its controversial incentive auction (GigaOm) Verizon, AT&T May Face Bidding Limits in Spectrum Auction (WSJ)