The Honorable Michael K. Powell
Federal Communications Commission
445 Twelfth Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554
Re: Postponement of Auctions in the Upper and Lower 700 MHz Bands
Dear Chairman Powell:
On behalf of the Administration, I am writing to urge the Commission to postpone the auctions in the Upper and Lower 700 MHz bands currently scheduled for June 19, 2002. While I applaud your recent "Proposal for Voluntary Industry Actions to Speed the Digital Television Transition" as a call to action that I am hopeful industry will heed, significant uncertainty remains today about the date on which the spectrum in these bands will become available for new wireless services. Until more certainty exists about the means for and timing of such spectrum clearing, an auction of the Upper and Lower 700 MHz bands would be premature and contrary to public interest.
The Administration recognizes the important role that broadcasting continues to play in the lives of all Americans and the challenges associated with the digital conversion. At the same time, spectrum is needed for new wireless services that provide new communications opportunities to American families, businesses, and public safety providers. An equitable and efficient solution for relocating incumbents in these bands is possible and the Administration looks forward to working with the Commission and Congress to ensure such policies are developed in a timely fashion. But, until then, too much uncertainty remains to move forward with the auctioning of this spectrum.
In light of this uncertainty, the Administration has proposed legislation to postpone the statutory deadlines for the auctions of spectrum currently assigned to television channels 60-69 (747-762 MHz and 777-792 MHz) and 52-59 (698-746 MHz). The Administration's bill would shift the deadline for the upper 700 MHz auction from 2000 to 2004 and for the lower 700 MHz auction from 2002 to 2006. These auction deadline shifts are intended to provide the time necessary to resolve existing uncertainties about when and how this spectrum will be cleared and ready for the deployment of new services. The Administration still believes that a legislative postponement of the auction deadlines is preferable and will continue to work towards that end.
However, the Commission has previously exercised its discretion to postpone these auctions. We urge the Commission to do so again, at least to provide sufficient time for Congress to act.
Donald L. Evans
cc: The Honorable Kathleen Q. Abernathy
The Honorable Michael J. Copps
The Honorable Kevin J. Martin