Senators add voices to call for incentive spectrum auctions


In a development that comes as no surprise whatsoever, Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), the top legislators in the Senate Commerce Committee, advised the Supercommittee to insert television band incentive spectrum auctions in any deficit reduction plan they come up with.

The duo have been calling for this all year, and have included language supporting the concept in their S. 911, the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act.

In their letter to the Supercommittee, they noted a CBO report that estimated a $6.5B benefit in deficit reduction if the legislation is adopted as written. They said they are willing to work with their counterparts in the House to increase the deficit reduction portion to $10B.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) just sent a similar letter to the Supercommittee suggesting that perhaps $15B could be knocked off the deficit under an auction program.

They listed other benefits of their bill, saying, “S. 911 also promises to create additional market-based jobs by facilitating the transfer of large amounts of spectrum to commercial mobile broadband use.  According to one recent report by the Analysis Group for Mobile Future, reassigning 300 megahertz of spectrum to the mobile broadband marketplace within five years would spur $75 billion in new capital spending, creating more than 300,000 jobs and $230 billion in additional gross domestic product. Plus, the nationwide build-out obligations in S. 911 would lead to enhanced wireless deployment and job growth in rural America – where too many communities today lack the wireless infrastructure necessary to succeed in our modern economy.”

RBR-TVBR observation: In describing the benefits of their bill to the Supercommittee, the duo did not expend so much as a single word describing how necessary precautions are included to protect free over-the-air television service. And so it goes.

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