NAB: FCC Auction Approach Too Complex
The NAB today derided the FCC’s incentive auction plan, calling it "unnecessarily complex" and unrealistic.
The comments came in a proceeding that set the rules for how the FCC will buy spectrum from participating TV broadcasters in a reverse auction and turn around and sell it to wireless carriers in a forward auction. Final comments in the proceeding are due today.
NAB made it clear it didn't like the way the FCC was heading in its auction planning. "The overall approach ... is unnecessarily complex, appears to ignore important engineering considerations and overlooks more basic and straightforward solutions.
"Rather than designing an economist’s academic ideal of a reverse auction untethered from engineering realities, the auction should be designed with an eye towards achieving a viable nationwide band plan driven in part by the realistic repacking of broadcast stations,” it said.
The NAB suggested the FCC's first step should be to figure out how it would reorder or repack the remaining stations in the TV band assuming different "realistic" amounts of cleared spectrum.
"This will help the commission determine in what markets it needs volunteers, and how many of them, to produce a workable and efficient national plan," the NAB said. "The commission should then project generally what proceeds its expects to raise in the forward auction."
The NAB again raised concerns about how non-participating stations would be affected by the auctioning. In the legislation authorize the FCC to conduct the auctions, Congress included safeguards meant to prevent any loss of service by broadcasters.
“To redefine, reduce or change either the coverage area or viewers actually served by stations will inflict serious damage on our members’ ability to compete in the marketplace and serve their local audiences,” the group emphasized.
The NAB also urged the FCC to not adopt a split or variable band plan, arguing that approach creates harmful interference for both broadcasters and wireless carriers. It could also require wireless exclusion zones, where wireless license holders wouldn’t be able to operate the spectrum that they won at auction.
“This is a substantial stumbling block, and the commission must undertake a serious and rigorous analysis of the effects of a variable plan on broadcast and wireless operations before adopting a band plan.”