U.S. FCC to propose rules for new spectrum auction

WASHINGTON, Sept 6 Fri Sep 7, 2012 12:00am EDT

WASHINGTON, Sept 6 (Reuters) - The U.S. telecommunications regulator will meet at the end of the month to discuss rules for an auction where broadcasters will sell spectrum to wireless carriers, perhaps as early as 2014.

The Federal Communications Commission has been asked by Congress to encourage broadcasters to sell UHF spectrum, which is great for mobile data, to wireless carriers that have complained bitterly about a spectrum crunch as U.S. consumers go increasingly global.

Through the auction, broadcasters would be encouraged to sell spectrum they do not use, share with other broadcasters to free up spectrum or move to VHF, which is good for broadcasters but inadequate for mobile phones and data streaming.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will begin circulating proposed rules to other commissioners on Friday, with plans to discuss the proposal at the Sept. 28 FCC meeting, an FCC official said.

The FCC hopes to finalize the rules in the middle of next year and hold the auction in 2014, the official said.

The official declined to put a dollar value on the potential sale, saying it would vary widely depending on what spectrum broadcasters were inclined to give up and how much wireless companies would be willing to pay.

The National Association of Broadcasters has been pushing to ensure that the spectrum auctions are entirely voluntary for broadcasters and that any re-arrangement of spectrum is done in a way that does not hurt any broadcasters.

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