Spectrum Policy Must Continue to Ensure Equality of Opportunity

by David Honig on December 12, 2012

Spectrum AuctionWith Congress holding a hearing on wireless spectrum policy today, it is important to remember how critical mobile wireless services are to providing health, educational and economic opportunities to people of color.  Thanks to its affordability, wireless is the first technology in history for which people of color are the lead adopters.  It is a pathway to what the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) calls “first class digital citizenship.” But that pathway will disappear if the spectrum shortage forces wireless providers to use price to mediate demand that exceeds supply.

To facilitate continued mobile wireless innovation and deployment of high speed broadband service to minorities, Congress should require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to move rapidly to establish an incentive auction process that will facilitate the voluntary transfer of licensed broadcast spectrum to consumer broadband services.  Broadband companies that win more licensed spectrum at auction will have the incentive to commit to new investment to build out the high-speed next-generation mobile broadband networks that consumers want and need.  This investment will ignite new waves of wireless innovation across the country and help bring digital equality and new opportunities to more consumers, wherever they are.

For the benefit of minority communities nationwide, Congress should also urge the FCC to accelerate its review and authorization of pending secondary market transactions involving spectrum between broadband service providers.  Not only will this serve minority mobile consumers by rapidly putting spectrum to its highest and best use, it will enable broadband companies to deploy and/or expand mobile broadband services to consumers using what is presently underutilized spectrum.

With 60 percent of African Americans and 66 percent of Hispanic Americans using smart phones to access the mobile Internet, it is important that Congress and the FCC promote policies that bring more spectrum to market, quickly, thus enabling more people to learn, discover, and achieve with greater opportunities than ever before.  Spectrum policies allowing the wireless revolution to thrive are vital to ensuring that all American have an equal opportunity to benefit from mobile innovation.   The FCC should establish an auction framework that enables all wireless broadband providers – large and small, incumbents and new entrants – to bid on all available spectrum, and ensure that the correct policy framework is in place that provides the incentive to enable them to invest billions of more dollars in America’s future.

  • David Honig is MMTC’s President and Executive Director. He co-founded the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) in 1986. MMTC has represented over 70 minority, civil rights and religious national organizations in selected proceedings before the FCC, and it operates the nation’s only full service, minority owned media and telecom brokerage.

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