Obama jobs bill includes broadcast spectrum auctions
President Barack Obama's jobs bill gives the FCC authority to conduct voluntary incentive auctions of television broadcast spectrum.
The bill also allocates the D-block for public safety and includes $7 billion in long-awaited funding for a national mobile broadband network for first responders. The money to build the network will come from the broadcast auction proceeds.
The legislation also contains provisions that would open spectrum below 3 GHz currently used by federal users. It would open 15 MHz of contiguous spectrum between 1675 MHz and 1710 MHz and 25 MHz of spectrum between 1755 MHz and 1850 MHz, in addition to other spectrum currently used by government agencies.
The draft bill contains provisions that would stop the spectrum from being repurposed if incumbent government users cannot switch to another band.
The White House sent the American Jobs Act to Congress on Monday. The $477 billion bill is intended to spur the nation's flagging economy by extending certain tax cuts and providing financial aid to state and local governments.
The president is pushing Congress to "pass this jobs plan right away," but the Republican-controlled House could squash the plan entirely or only pass selected passages.
CTIA applauded the legislation, saying in a statement it "appreciates the administration's continued support for spectrum auctions."
"Bringing additional spectrum to auction expeditiously is critical to efforts to address wireless consumers' demand for mobile broadband service, just as it is key to spurring additional investment, innovation and job creation across the wireless ecosystem," CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent said. "We urge Congress to act swiftly to authorize incentive auctions and to repurpose a significant portion of the sub-3 gigahertz bands currently occupied by federal users."
The FCC's proposed incentive auctions of additional television spectrum has been widely panned by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), whose members are wary of relinquishing additional spectrum so soon after the 2008 auctions. The NAB, which has repeatedly clashed with CTIA over the issue, wants assurances that the auctions will be completely voluntary.
Legislation creating a national public safety network has circulated through the House and Senate for years but has yet to reach the president's desk, even after the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Advocates in the public safety community remain hopeful that the legislation will pass as early as this fall.