As long as they're voluntary, Rep. Walden backs incentive auctions

Representative Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce telecom subcommittee, has placed his powerful stamp of approval on plans to use incentive auctions to grab broadcast spectrum for a wireless-centric national broadband plan. Being a politician, of course, Walden had a qualifier.

"Any incentive auction in which a licensee forfeits spectrum rights must be voluntary. If a broadcast station values its spectrum more than a potential wireless broadband provider is willing to pay, the station will not be forced off the air," Walden said.

This could gum things up for the FCC's National Broadband Plan which is dependent on wresting 120 MHz of spectrum away from broadcasters and selling it to wireless carriers. The National Association of Broadcasters has resisted the idea of giving away any more spectrum and hasn't seemed particularly amenable about selling it.

Cable operators, sitting on their own unused spectrum, are taking especial note of how much spectrum the FCC can wrest from broadcasters before they come looking in cable's direction.

For more:
- The Hill has this story

Related articles:
NAB, wireless advocates square off in D.C. on spectrum auctions
ACA to FCC: Keep cable out of broadcast spectrum reclamation plans
Broadcasters' spectrum crisis could end up being cable's problem
Seidenberg: FCC should look at cable, not broadcasters, for more spectrum

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