Today, Washington passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, extending the Payroll Tax Cut and unemployment benefits. Part of this was the authorization of the FCC to auction off wireless spectrum, which was proposed in the National Broadband Plan, introduced in 2010.
Essentially, broadcasters with spectrum to spare forfeit the extra, and get some of the money the auctions generate.
CTIA - The Wireless Association President and CEO Steve Largent issued the following statement:
“For more than three years, CTIA and its members have been advocating for more spectrum so America’s wireless industry can remain the world’s leader in the deployment of advanced wireless services. Today’s bipartisan vote to pass the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which includes provisions to make a substantial swath of spectrum available for commercial use, represents an important step toward meeting the industry’s spectrum needs.
“We are grateful to Representatives Upton, Walden, Waxman and Eshoo and Senators Rockefeller and Hutchison for their leadership throughout this process. Their dedication and focus were paramount to securing the bipartisan and bicameral support necessary to enact spectrum reform. We also appreciate FCC Chairman Genachowski and the FCC commissioners for their contribution to this effort.
“Ultimately, today’s vote was a resounding victory for consumers and the American economy. Making spectrum available will make it possible for America’s wireless carriers to offer consumers better, faster, more ubiquitous wireless broadband service. The release of additional spectrum also will spur the investment and job creation that our economy needs.”
Additionally, CNET shares statements from AT&T and Sprint:
"This provides procedural safeguards, and also an opportunity for a court challenge," said Jim Cicconi, head of legislative affairs for AT&T, said in a statement. "We take the FCC Chairman at his word when he says there is no intent to have closed auctions that deny AT&T and other carriers the ability to fairly and fully participate, but we also feel it important that Congress has now made its views clear as well."
"Sprint agrees with the Federal Communications Commission that all wireless carriers--small, regional and large--should have a meaningful chance to participate in wireless spectrum auctions," Vonya B. McCann, senior vice president of Government Affairs for Sprint, said in a statement. "While we didn't see the need to amend the statute, the compromise language approved by the conferees preserves the FCC's ability to promote competition as it conducts future wireless spectrum auctions."
WebProNews recently interviewed Bruce Mehlman, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Tech Policy & Co-Chair of the Internet Innovation Alliance. Here's what he had to say about the auctions: