Advocates of spectrum reform recently won a significant victory with the enactment of legislation authorizing the FCC to conduct so-called incentive auctions, through which television broadcasters would be invited to relinquish their spectrum licenses in exchange for a portion of the revenue generated through their resale to wireless carriers.
"The next step is to put the new law to work," Genachowski said, announcing that the agency plans to begin the complex process of drafting rules for the auctions in the fall. "How much spectrum the incentive auctions will ultimately free up will depend on rigorous and fact-based analysis of economics and engineering issues."
Beyond the major incentive auction initiative, Genachowski stressed the need for broad-ranging efforts to drive incremental spectrum enhancements. The FCC, for instance, has been advancing proposals to reallocate portions of the airwaves from satellite to terrestrial use. The agency is also spearheading the deployment of the unused slivers of broadcast spectrum known as white spaces for wireless broadband, calling it "the most significant release of spectrum for unlicensed use in 25 years."
Those efforts are supported by the FCC's recent move to divert revenue under the Universal Service Fund that it administers to a mobility fund designed to make wireless service available to rural and low-income Americans.
Genachowski similarly urged companies in the wireless industry to explore technologies that can wring more use out of the finite amount of available spectrum, such as small cells, efficient receivers and spectrum sharing.
The chairman also took a moment to riff on the recent confirmation of two new commissioners, Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai, whose nominations had been held up in the Senate for months owing to one member's concerns about the agency's review of LightSquared, a startup with political connections that had sought to build a nationwide wireless network.
"I'm not saying their confirmation is overdue, but they were nominated by President Truman," Genachowski said.
Kenneth Corbin is a Washington, D.C.-based writer who covers government and regulatory issues for CIO.com.
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