FCC kicks off task force on incentive auctions


Julius GenachowskiThe conventional wisdom is that the authority granted to the FCC to conduct incentive auctions of spectrum in the television space, itself the result of a long and drawn out process, is only just the beginning of yet another long and drawn out process. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced the formation of a task force charged with moving the ball down the field toward the incentive auction goal line.

The Incentive Auction Task Force – which will end up tapping the skills and resources of most of the FCC’s bureaus and offices — will be under the direction of Ruth Milkman. Also expected to have major input, according to Genachowski: “Rick Kaplan and Bill Lake, the leaders of our Wireless Telecommunications and Media Bureaus; Julie Knapp, the head of our Office of Engineering and Technology, our Chief Economist Marius Schwartz and our Chief Technologist Henning Schulzrinne, our General Counsel Austin Schlick.”

Genachowski stated, “Incentive auctions are a big idea. The concept, of course, which we developed in our National Broadband Plan, is to deploy market forces and a market-based mechanism to repurpose spectrum for flexible use, including mobile broadband. But there’s no doubt that the task ahead will be complex and challenging. Incentive auctions are unprecedented. The legislation, at over 100 pages, raises many difficult issues.”

He concluded, “I’m confident our staff is up to the challenge. What we’ll see is an implementation process that will be inclusive and participatory; that will be guided by the economics and the engineering; and that will seek to maximize the opportunity to unleash investment and innovation, benefit consumers, drive economic growth, and enhance our global competitiveness. When the incentive auction of the TV bands is complete, we expect to have a healthy broadcast sector, and a strong, robust, competitive, and world-leading mobile industry.”