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House Panel To Begin Examination of Spectrum Issues

March 1, 2011

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said Tuesday that the panel will begin its examination of spectrum issues next week with a hearing.

During a speech at the National Association of Broadcasters state leadership conference, Upton said the committee wants to craft legislation that would ensure both broadcasters and wireless providers can continue to provide consumers with what they want: access to television and spectrum to meet the growing demand for wireless broadband.

"We want to design a win, win, win strategy," Upton said. "We want to have broadcasters to win, wireless [operators] to win and the public to win in terms of deficit reduction."

Among the issues policymakers must tackle include how to free up more spectrum for wireless broadband and whether to re-allocate a controversial chunk of spectrum known a the D-block to public safety officials for a national broadband interoperable network.

Upton did not give any signals as to what proposals the committee would take up, saying the hearings will help educate lawmakers on the issues.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the committee's Communications and Technology Subcommittee holding the spectrum hearing next week, has voiced concern about the budget implications of reallocating the D-block to public safety officials. Under current law, the spectrum is slated to be auctioned by the FCC.

Upton also did not address calls for Congress to craft legislation authorizing the Federal Communications Commission to conduct incentive auctions, which would involve incentivizing broadcasters to give up some of their spectrum in exchange for a share in the proceeds from the auction of those airwaves.

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