July 16, 2015 - 4:30 pm
By Tom Wheeler | FCC Chairman

From the outset of our work to implement the world’s first Incentive Auction, a central goal has been to maximize the amount of spectrum made available for not only licensed use, but also unlicensed use. Unlicensed spectrum has been powerful platform for driving innovation, investment, and economic growth. Breakthroughs like Wi-Fi, which relies on unlicensed spectrum, have generated hundreds of billions of dollars of value for our economy and consumers.

Last year, the Commission adopted an Incentive Auction Report & Order that proposes three channels for unlicensed use nationwide. While some have sought to define “nationwide” as synonymous as “uniform in every market,” that is most likely a physical impossibility that ignores how broadcast participation can vary in every market. Today, I’m circulating two items for consideration, alongside the other Incentive Auction items, at next month’s open meeting. The Part 15 Report and Order will assure unlicensed spectrum is available in every market.  The Wireless Microphones Comprehensive Report & Order will address the long term needs of wireless microphone users.

Our proposal would benefit consumers in the form of increased investment and innovation in unlicensed products and services. The proposal also helps those who rely on wireless microphones by altering operational parameters and expanding access to spectrum.

The technical standards we are proposing for unlicensed operations would create certainty for unlicensed device users and manufacturers while reducing the risk of interference to licensed users. These items are important components of a suite of proposals that establish clear rules and protections for unlicensed devices as well as licensed wireless microphone devices in the Incentive Auction band as well as in other wireless bands where licensed wireless mics will gain additional access.

No party gets everything it wants in the proposed items. Once again, the Commission seeks to adopt the set of solutions that best meets the auction goals stipulated by Congress while accommodating most of the concerns raised by all parties to ultimately deliver an efficient, effective and timely auction in the public interest.

These proposals join two other Incentive Auction-related items slated for consideration at next month’s open meeting: a Public Notice establishing the bidding procedures for the Incentive Auction and the Reconsideration of the Mobile Spectrum Holdings Order. These items were originally scheduled for our July meeting, but were rescheduled for August 6.

Moving forward on the Incentive Auction is a national priority for both economic growth and deficit reduction. I remain committed to achieving our goal of beginning the auction in the first quarter of 2016.