Auction-related international spectrum talks in progress


ChatIn order to pull off the incentive auction program of television spectrum in 2014, the FCC must have agreements in place with both Canada and Mexico, and this aspect of the program has been of major concern to US congressional delegations in states near the two borders. The FCC says the process is well under way and believes that a solution that benefits all parties is achievable.

The FCC and the Department of State are both on the job. Two bodies are providing the framework for negotiations, the U.S.-Canada Radio Technical Liaison Committee (RTLC) and U.S.-Mexico High Level Consultative Commission on Telecommunications (HLCC).

The FCC said in a statement, “As is typical of open spectrum proceedings with cross-border implications, the United States and its Canadian and Mexican counterparts have established government-to-government working arrangements that have been operating to help ensure optimal outcomes for all three countries. The U.S.-Canada working arrangement has resulted in several teleconferences over the past month.”

“The U.S. has always had collegial and effective working relationships with our spectrum partners in Canada and Mexico. Spectrum coordination with our neighbors to the north and south is a key component to the Commission’s spectrum management mandate,” said Gary Epstein, Chair of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force.

Jack Spilsbury, Acting United States Coordinator for International Communications Policy at the State Department added, “The RTLC and HLCC have served as useful well established bilateral institutions in international communications for all three countries for decades.”

RBR-TVBR observation: To the more than casual observer, perhaps the single most difficult aspect of the incentive auctions is to squeeze television stations into a narrower swathe of spectrum, particularly after that was just done in 2009 when the DTV transition took place. And if there’s anything harder than channel repacking, its channel repacking in an environment where not one but two international agreements have to be negotiated.

This becomes magnified by an infinite degree to those of us who watch Congress in operation and have come to believe that some senator could say “Today is Monday” and it would draw a filibuster. After awhile you wonder if anybody anywhere can agree to anything.

But lately we’ve been hearing the opinion stated that a 2014 auction is achievable, when for the longest time all we ever saw was the opinion that it 2014 was nothing more than a wildly optimistic dream. The FCC seems pleased with progress so far, so maybe we’ll be surprised and it really WILL happen in 2014.

But all in all, we still remain among the skeptics – there are just too many moving parts here. FCC, can you prove us wrong?