COMMISSIONER JESSICA ROSENWORCEL
Incentive Auction Task Force Presentation
(January 30, 2014)
Like my colleagues, I was privileged to be able to attend the Consumer Electronics Show
earlier this month. It’s a gadget geek heaven. I saw so many glassy screens, innovative
applications, and cloud-based concepts. But what struck me most was the talk. Everywhere I
heard mobile, mobile, mobile. For me, that means spectrum, spectrum, spectrum.
Spectrum is the consummate scarce resource. We are not in the business of making
more. But to meet the demands of the new mobile economy, we are in the business of using
what we have more efficiently. That is why the wireless auctions this agency conducts are so
important. That is why the incentive auctions we will conduct are especially critical. If we get
them right, we will demonstrate to the world that there are novel ways to reclaim spectrum and
repurpose old airwaves for new mobile broadband use. That is exciting—and terribly
So it is a good thing that we have an extraordinary team assembled to do this job. During
the team’s last presentation this past summer, I described two objectives that are essential for
successful incentive auctions. I think today’s presentation is evidence that we have made
significant progress on both fronts.
First, transparency. The virtuous efforts of our auction experts will not matter if their
good work is held in obscurity. So the roadmap we have here will help provide guidance—about
what decisions have been made and what decisions remain. Going forward we need to make our
calendar clear. Milestones demonstrate progress and increase trust in our process. So, too, do
our public workshops on relocation, repacking, and a host of other issues.
Second, participation. We do not want to hold a party and have no one show up. So our
outreach to broadcasters must be more than broad—it must be targeted. One-to-many efforts are
not enough. One-to-one outreach is essential. In addition, demonstrating that channel sharing is
viable is important if we want to encourage broad participation. So kudos to Los Angeles
stations KLCS and KJLA for working with the wireless industry in a frequency-sharing pilot.
Finally, I think there is something else that can guide us through the work ahead. Over
the past several years, the Commission has been able to recruit talented, young legal
professionals through an honors attorney program. I know because one of them works in my
office. But I think this program needs an engineering counterpart. An honors engineering
program would bring new vigor to the ranks of our technical staff. By mixing young men—and
women—with experienced engineers already here, the Commission could be better prepared to
face the challenges of incentive auctions and a gadget-filled mobile future built on spectrum.
Thank you to the incentive auction team for this update. Keep up the good work.