At a speech this week at CES, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski again pledged to make the release of additional spectrum a top priority for the agency this year. As previously considered, Genachowski hopes he can lure broadcasters into given up some of their unused spectrum, using spectrum incentive auctions, which would allow broadcasters to voluntarily give up spectrum in exchange for some of the auction proceeds
. Genachowski insists such auctions would be a "mechanism to enable market forces to unleash the value of that spectrum for broadband use."
Genachowski reiterated the FCC position that there's a "spectrum crisis" afoot, though said crisis is in large part due to already-owned spectrum being used inefficiently. Though the FCC boss failed to mention it, the government has a lot of inefficiently or unused spectrum. Also unmentioned by Genachowski is the fact that wireless carriers are sitting on about $15 billion in unused spectrum
, with AT&T alone squatting over around $10 billion worth. Responding to Genachowski's statement that many broadcasters also might not be making the most efficient use of spectrum, a National Association Of Broadcaster statement quickly found its way into our inbox this afternoon:
"Broadcasters have no quarrel with an incentive auction that is truly voluntary. It's also noteworthy that broadcasters have already returned 108 MHz of spectrum to the government, a position that makes us the only user of airwaves that has returned spectrum to the government. Simply put, broadcast television is far and away the most efficient user of spectrum because of a 'one-to-many' transmission system that is remarkably reliable in a communications era best known for inconsistent 'one-to-one' cellphone connections."
You might recall there was some fear last year after an erroneous Wall Street Journal report suggested the FCC might try to grab some broadcaster spectrum by force, something the FCC says was never on the table.