The Federal Communications Commission and Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg are exchanging barbs over the agency’s plan to reclaim spectrum from broadcasters.
Seidenberg said the FCC should not ask broadcasters to give up their spectrum for the wireless industry. He argued the FCC’s broadband plan overestimated the industry’s need for spectrum and that market forces and technological advancements would solve potential shortages of spectrum.
Seidenberg’s comments were made during a talk this week with the Council on Foreign Relations. “Confiscating the spectrum and repurposing for other things, I'm not sure I buy into the idea that that's a good thing to do,” he said, according to a transcript of his comments.
Seidenberg also questioned why the FCC wanted to reclaim spectrum from broadcasters instead of cable companies.
“Cable companies have bought spectrum over the last 10 or 15 years that's been lying fallow,” he said. “So here the FCC is out running around looking for new sources of spectrum, and we've got probably 150 megahertz of spectrum sitting out there that people own that aren't being built on. I don't get that. This annoys me.”
FCC chief of staff Ed Lazarus shot back at Seidenberg in a post on the agency’s official blog, calling Seidenberg’s comments “rather baffling.”
“The fact is, Verizon played a major role in building an overwhelming record in support of more mobile broadband spectrum, consistently expressing its official view that the country faces a looming spectrum crisis that could undermine the country’s global competitiveness,” Lazarus said, citing multiple filings by Verizon detailing the need for more spectrum.
Seidenberg’s comments go against the industry consensus. CTIA asked the FCC to free up an additional 800 MHz of spectrum for mobile broadband and has lauded the agency’s decision to allocate 500 MHz to wireless under the National Broadband Plan.
Neither Verizon nor the FCC returned requests for comment by press time.