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Kerry, Snowe Introduce Incentive Auctions Bill

Thu, 03/03/2011 - 7:05am
Maisie Ramsay

Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) have introduced a bipartisan bill that would give the FCC the authority to conduct incentive auctions of television broadcast spectrum.

The Reforming Airwaves by Developing Incentives and Opportunistic Sharing (RADIOS) Act also requires the FCC to enforce a ban on spectrum speculation and conduct an inventory of the country's spectrum resources designed to provide policy makers with a detailed and up-to-date understanding of how the nation's spectrum is being used and by whom.

"Unfortunately, the government's current spectrum management framework is inefficient and has not kept up with technological advancements to ensure providers have the necessary wireless capacity to meet growing demand for this finite resource," said Sen. Snowe, senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, in a statement. "This comprehensive approach to spectrum reform will ensure our ability to meet the future telecommunications needs of all spectrum users."

The legislation requires the FCC and NTIA to collaborate on spectrum policy and management issues; create spectrum sharing and reuse programs; and develop market-based incentives to make sure spectrum is used efficiently.

The RADIOS Act is a modified version of similar legislation introduced last year by Sen. Snowe and Sen. Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. The revised bill includes additional legislative efforts with support from both Democrats and Republicans and provisions developed from discussions with industry experts.

The inclusion of a ban on spectrum speculation came after accusations by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) that Dish Network and Time Warner Cable were warehousing their spectrum with plans to sell it at a profit instead of use it for wireless services.

This week, the NAB repeated its allegations about spectrum hoarding and asked lawmakers to investigate Dish Network, Time Warner Cable and government agencies for alleged spectrum speculation. The NAB says it is not opposed to additional auctions of television broadcast spectrum as long as those auctions are voluntary, and has asked lawmakers to conduct an inventory of the nation's spectrum resources before it allows incentive auctions to take place.

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