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Chairman Genachowski on Auction Legislation

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Released: December 13, 2011

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).



December 13, 2011
Neil Grace, 202-418-0506



Washington, D.C. -- FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has issued the following statement on
the House passage of voluntary incentive auction legislation:
“House passage of incentive auction authority is a major achievement. The House legislation,
like S. 911, which was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, would authorize the
Federal Communications Commission to conduct voluntary incentive auctions as recommended
in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. This would free up new spectrum for mobile broadband,
driving investment, innovation, and job creation; generating many billions of dollars of revenue;
and helping foster U.S. leadership in mobile broadband.
“Incentive auction authority, which has broad bipartisan support, needs to become law. Unless
we free up new spectrum for mobile broadband, the looming spectrum crunch risks throttling our
mobile economy and frustrating mobile consumers.
“The House bill also provides funding for a public safety broadband network for the nation’s
first responders, which was another recommendation of the National Broadband Plan. I further
applaud the House for adopting this important proposal.
“As the bill moves forward, I look forward to working with Congress to ensure that the FCC has
the flexibility it needs on spectrum policy, a hallmark of our legal and regulatory structure that
has been in place for decades. Communications technologies and markets change rapidly and
unexpectedly. The FCC’s ability to adapt nimbly to these changes and to manage spectrum for
the benefit of the American public and our economy will be even more critical in the years
“Over the last weeks and months, we have conveyed to Members of Congress and their staff
concerns about provisions that would reduce FCC flexibility to maximize the overall value of
freed-up spectrum, enhance spectrum efficiency, and promote robust innovation and investment.
Several provisions of the House bill would tie the agency’s hands in ways that could be
counterproductive, reducing economic value and hindering innovation and investment. One

important example is the legislation’s seeming limitation on the Commission’s ability to
accommodate new technologies, including those that use unlicensed spectrum, like super WiFi or
machine-to-machine Internet connected devices. I encourage Congress to leave no doubt that the
FCC can continue its policies to promote unlicensed spectrum use alongside licensed uses.
“These policies to promote unlicensed spectrum contribute tens of billions of dollars to our
economy each year. Wi-Fi hot spots across the United States increase the value of licensed
broadband service by an estimated $25 billion a year. Wireless providers rely on Wi-Fi to “off-
load” nearly 40 percent of traffic from their networks, resulting in a reduction of the cost of
wireless broadband service by at least another $25 billion each year. Unlicensed spectrum
stimulates innovation, investment, and job creation in many ways, including by providing start-
ups with quick access to a testbed for spectrum that is used by millions, bringing new
technologies to consumers in a rapid fashion. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cordless phones, garage door
openers, wireless car keys, and baby monitors—industries generating billions of dollars of
revenue—would not exist without unlicensed spectrum. As CTIA, The Wireless Association,
recently explained in a letter to Congress, licensed and unlicensed should be accommodated in
any spectrum legislation and should be viewed as “complementary rather than an either-or
“Precluding the FCC from adopting innovation-enhancing policies around unlicensed spectrum
could threaten U.S. global leadership in spectrum-related innovation. The same is true for the
bill’s restrictions on the Commission’s ability to construct band plans and structure auctions in
ways that maximize the value of licensed spectrum. Ensuring that the Commission retains the
flexibility to determine the optimal band plan for new spectrum that becomes available,
including the creation of guard bands and other interference safeguards, will enhance the value
of the new commercial mobile licenses, as will ensuring that the Commission can conduct
auctions in ways that will best further innovation, investment, and competition in the wireless
“Again, I commend the House of Representatives for its passage of historic incentive auction
legislation. The Commission will continue to serve as resource to Congress as this measure
moves forward so we can help seize the enormous mobile opportunity and meet the growing
demand for mobile services.”

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