The FCC this week began the first-of-its-kind voluntary auction of television broadcast spectrum, launching a vitally important government effort to free up spectrum needed for wireless broadband services. The auction incentivizes broadcasters to relinquish their spectrum to the FCC which, in turn, will auction it to wireless service providers.
The successful outcome of this auction will help ensure that communications networks can support exploding demand for mobile broadband. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) release just last month, U.S. mobile data traffic will grow 6-fold from 2015 to 2020. Without significant new sources of spectrum, our country faces a very real economic threat and the possibility that next-generation devices, applications and services will be severely limited.
The spectrum made available through the FCC’s incentive auction will be put to work for consumers and businesses, as mobile devices and the Internet of Things become increasingly essential to everything we do. The economic activity enabled by the newly available spectrum will significantly exceed the value of the auction revenues themselves – and those revenues are expected to be substantial, with many analysts estimating that proceeds will be in the range of $35 to $45 billion.
Given how important this spectrum is for consumers and the American economy, TIA applauds the FCC for being both thoughtful and expeditious in their efforts to move this auction forward. They reached an enormous milestone this week, and we thank the Commissioners, their staff and all of the stakeholders who have contributed to this vital process.
Of course, this auction alone will not solve our spectrum crunch, and we are committed to working with Congress, federal agencies and regulators to develop creative and effective solutions. At the same time, TIA believes a more comprehensive spectrum policy framework is needed to help ensure that federal spectrum decisions result in the best possible outcomes for consumers, industry, and government.