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FCC Takes Next Step In Spectrum Sell-Off

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, according to GigaOM.com, is planning to circulate his ideas to the commission today on how they might conduct the so-called incentive auctions where broadcasters can sell off their airwaves, or spectrum, to appease increasing consumer demand for wireless broadband.

The FCC is also expected to release its tentative agenda today for its meeting in three weeks.  That agenda is expected to include discussion about the incentive auctions approved by Congress in February.

Wireless carriers say they’re running out of spectrum space to fuel the increasing consumer appetite for data streaming and wireless services offered by smart phones and tablets.  In response, Congress is encouraging broadcasters to sell off unused spectrum to wireless carriers who can then use it to ease their broadband crunch.

By laying out the ground rules, the FCC is taking the next step towards the auctions that could begin as early as 2014.  Investors looking to cash in on the sell off have been buying up small stations in larger markets in anticipation of the proposed auctions.  Until now, it was unclear when the auctions would begin.

[AdWeek, Reuters, nextgov.com]

>Update:  FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski released a statement today on the FCC website confirming the September 28 vote on his proposal for incentive auctions.  In it, he says freeing up spectrum is a key to further innovation.

“To ensure ongoing innovation in mobile broadband, we must pursue several strategies vigorously:
freeing up more spectrum for both licensed use and for unlicensed services like Wi-Fi; driving faster
speeds, greater capacity, and ubiquitous mobile Internet coverage; and taking additional steps to ensure
that our invisible infrastructure for mobile innovation can meet the needs of the 21st century.”

In the statement, Genachowski also linked the plan for incentive auctions with job growth and a stronger competitive edge for the U.S.

Click here to view the full statement on the FCC website.

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