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House Republicans in advance of a Friday hearing by the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology on spectrum issues have circulated a draft spectrum bill.
A copy of the bill is here.
The following statement is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:
"Until now, communications law has never been publicly put up for sale. This draft bill would do that by allowing broadcasters to choose which rules they will follow and which rules they won't if they sell their broadcast spectrum at auction.
"Similarly, wireless companies would be relieved of even the most minimal existing Net Neutrality requirements if they purchase spectrum under these auctions.
"Finally, the innovation and experimentation we have seen through the use of unlicensed spectrum would screech to a grinding halt. Rather than have the FCC decide how much spectrum would be used for unlicensed uses, the draft bill would require a collective bid for unlicensed spectrum higher than bids for licensed uses. Given that unlicensed uses like Wi-Fi come from small and new companies, the future of new uses would be very bleak."
For guidance purposes, we direct your attention to these provisions:
1) pages 18-19, line 19 (regulatory relief). if you are broadcast licensee instead of taking money from an incentive auction for repacking or moving to a different spectrum band, you can ask FCC for a waiver of any commission rule or any provision of law.
2) pages 28 -29, line 8 (administration of auctions). If someone buys a license at auction, the spectrum is exempt from even the weak Net Neutrality rules that have been approved to guard against basic anticompetitive activity in wireless service such as barring competitive services.
3) page 29, line 3. prohibits spectrum cap, and also eliminates the ability of the Commission to favor small business and minority, women-owned businesses in auctions.
4) page 26, line 10. unlicensed spectrum is subject to auction. A block of spectrum would be put up for auction, with bidders specifying whether use would be for licensed or unlicensed use. Unlicensed has to be higher for bid to be accepted.
5) page 30 (section begins). gives public safety spectrum to the states, without an auction, with a nebulous plan and some unspecified grant money to coordinate the public safety network.