The Obama Administration’s budget proposes new annual license fees for wireless spectrum. The proposal is expected to affect any number of wireless companies – including AT&T and Verizon, of course – but also other license holders such as Cox Communications, Bresnan Communications, Dish Network and Qualcomm.

The proposal is tucked in as a line item for the FCC in the budget document drafted by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in an appended table called Mandatory and Receipt Proposals.

The administration intends to collect $50 million this year and $200 million next year. Collections would level off at a consistent $550 million a year from 2013 to 2019. The total raised through 2019 would be more than $4.7 billion.

These recurring fees would come on top of the initial license fees purchased in various spectrum auctions over the last 10 years. The most recent auction, of the 700 MHz spectrum that is gradually being vacated by television broadcasters as they switch to digital signals, brought in more than $19 billion at auction. 

There are few swaths of spectrum left to auction, however. The Obama Administration calculates the U.S. will be able to generate only about $4.8 billion in revenue from wireless auctions in the next 10 years.

Table S–6: Mandatory and Receipt Proposals
(Deficit increases (+) or decreases (–) in millions of dollars)

 FCC Spectrum license user fee


Source: OMB

More Broadband Direct 02/27/09:
•  Obama proposes new fees on wireless spectrum
•  Brenner to depart NCTA
•  TWC pays off Time Warner; plans reverse stock split
•  OpenTV gets proposal from Kudelski
•  Yahoo names Ko to lead mobile team
•  Sony centers power at top in Stringer
•  Senate bars FCC from revisiting Fairness Doctrine
•  Broadband Briefs for 02/27/09