In a letter to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) concerning a full spectrum inventory, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said that inventory has been completed. NAB countered that maybe the outlines of an inventory was done, but not one which showed what was and was not actually being used. Now House Communications Subcommittee Chair Greg Walden (R-OR) is promising a hearing to get to the bottom of the matter.
NAB’s Dennis Wharton commented on the FCC pronouncement, saying, “The FCC statement is a disappointing response to Congress, which is seeking a thorough spectrum inventory. The question is not whether the FCC can identify locations and licenses on the spectrum dashboard that have been set aside for specific services. The real issue is whether specific companies that bought or were given spectrum worth billions have actually deployed it.”
Walden is promising a look at incentive auctions, which would allow willing broadcasters to cede spectrum back to the FCC for resale and repurposing in exchange for a share of the auction proceeds. Walden is also promising to look into charges that cable and telco firms are sitting on spectrum for speculative reasons. The hearings will come some time in April.
NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith applauded Walden’s plans. “NAB salutes Chairman Walden for his intention to hold spectrum hearings in April. It is critically important for Congress to exercise appropriate oversight of the FCC, and to investigate claims of spectrum warehousing, the adequacy of the FCC’s inventory, and spectrum efficiencies that could be realized through improved performance of television receiving devices. NAB stands ready to work with policymakers to achieve a telecommunications future that includes a vibrant free and local broadcasting business and addresses possible congestion on wireless networks.”