I am testifying at this hearing tomorrow at the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology: “So, How’s that Incentive Auction Thing Going?” You can read a copy of my testimony here. I can guarantee I am the only one to bring up the 1985-86 World Champion Boston Celtics, or ask the question: “What if The Chairmen and the Ranking Members of the committee and subcommittee were real estate developers?”
To elaborate a bit more, my testimony hits the following points:
1. We actually can still design an auction where we (a) get more low-band spectrum licenses for wireless broadband; (b) boost competition by making sure some of those licenses go to someone other than AT&T or Verizon; (c) pay for FirstNet all while (d) actually improving the current availability of unlicensed TV white space (TVWS) aka “super-WiFi” by opening up more TV white space in the urban markets. Oh yeah, and we’ll still have free over-the-air television for them what wants it.
Sounds too good to be true? Weird as it seems, we can for once have some serious wins on all fronts, giving something to everyone and overall improving public policy. We just have to be smart, patient, and work our way through this very complicated puzzle in a transparent process that emphasizes evidence rather than rhetoric.
Yes, you knew there would be a catch, didn’t you.
For those not up to reading my testimony, here is the brief summary of how we get to — if not the Promised Land, at least the ‘pretty decent place to be’ Land.
Step one: Please stop bashing FCC staff for trying to do their jobs. Srsly. This is not helpful, particularly since your next question is: “why don’t we have more public notices on stuff.”
Step two: Stop refighting the “yes unlicensed” v. “no unlicensed” battle and accept that fact that the statute says “yes unlicensed.” We can find good ways to get enough open spectrum out there to create a national band for unlicensed use that will have significant value for urban and rural broadband (as well as other uses, like machine-to-machine). The FCC should have a workshop and Public Notice on this issue to get the ball rolling.
Step three: We need a “No Piggies Rule” to keep Verizon and AT&T from snarfing all the good spectrum licenses like the did back in’08. Yes, this is legal under the statute. And, while auction revenue is not supposed to be the focus of all this, a “No Piggies Rule” will likely increase auction revenue.
Should be a fun hearing. Remember, you can find livestreaming link on the Committee’s Hearing Page right before things start at 10:30 a.m. July 23.
Stay tuned . . . .
Update: You can see a copy of my opening statement here.