RealTime IT News

Spectrum Auction Delay Hits Fast Track

Just hours after a bill designed to postpone the June 19 sale of airwaves was pushed out of a House committee, companion legislation was introduced in Senate by John Ensign (R.-Nev.) and John Kerry (D.-Mass.). Both bills seek to stop the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from holding an auction on parts of the 700 MHz spectrum band.

However, the spectrum that is up for sale will not be available until television broadcasters transition from analog broadcast signals to digital broadcast signals, thereby giving up their position on the 700 MHz band. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 allows the broadcasters until at least 2006 to relinquish the spectrum and transition to digital signals although other mandates require the spectrum by sold no later than Sept. 30.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell has said his agency can not delay the auction without authorization by Congress.

"This bill will delay the ill-timed, premature auction of spectrum that is already occupied and not ready for commercial use," Ensign said. "I believe that this bill is necessary to send a clear signal that we in Congress are serious about getting our spectrum policy in order."

Kerry added, "To proceed with the auction at this time would be a terrible example of budget politics taking precedence over sound spectrum management. I hope that the Congress will act soon to enact this bill and protect the interests of consumers of wireless services and the American taxpayer."

The Spectrum Auction Reform Act of 2002 is companion legislation to H.R. 4560, which unanimously passed the House Energy & Commerce Committee today and is cosponsored by 52 members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee