Chairman Wheeler Defends Reserve Spectrum Proposal

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has formally responded to critics of his proposed spectrum holdings order.  The draft order, expected to be voted on next month, would impact the 600 MHz Broadcast Incentive Auction by setting aside up to 30 MHz of reserve spectrum for bidding by entities that hold less than one-third of low band (below 1 GHz) spectrum in each market. The reserve spectrum would be made available for bidding as long as a particular (but as-yet-undetermined) trigger is activated. On April 16, AT&T publicly opposed the proposal, and noted that the company would “reevaluate its potential participation in the auction.” In a letter to members of Congress sent the next day, Chairman Wheeler defended the reserve proposal to a much larger audience. Wheeler stated that “[c]onsistent with the Spectrum Act, all who want to participate in the Incentive Auction will be able to bid. At the same time, a priority of the auction should be to assure that companies that already possess low-band spectrum do not exploit the auction to keep competitors from accessing the spectrum necessary to provide competition.”

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