Feature Article

January 16, 2013

Why Sharing Spectrum is a Buy/Sell Opportunity

As we prepare for the Super Wi-Fi Summit in Miami, Jan. 30-Feb. 1, we are even more aware of the spectrum crisis we face. As the wireless Internet keeps demanding more throughput, the issues of distribution and backhaul point to the critical nature of making more spectrum available.

One way Congress and the Commission are facilitating the opportunity is to have TV stations repack their broadcasts to free up frequencies. This strategy is going to require a very dynamic market, which was described brilliantly by Rebecca Hanson of the FCC at our recent Incentives Auction three hour virtual event.    

On Dec. 19, 2012, more than a dozen economists and attorneys participated in a three hour in-depth webinar discussion of the FCC's TV Incentive Auction NPRM at Pillsbury Winthrop's Washington D.C. office. The discussion focused on the legal and economic issues that the broadcasters are wrestling with.   The conference kicked-off with Barlow Keener of Keener Law Group who commented on the complexity of the FCC's NPRM order. Former FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth gave the opening remarks explaining the economic significance of the NPRM to the U.S. economy who said that the FCC should take more dramatic steps to free up more spectrum. The more spectrum that is freed up, the more opportunities for innovators to move the economy forward.

The panels that followed explained the legal issues.

The first panel analyzed the rules of the reverse auction. It included Rebecca Hanson, FCC Senior Advisor; John Hane, Pillsbury Law; Brian Madden, Lerman Senter; and Marty Stern, Moderator, K&L Gates Moderator. Ms. Hanson provided a detailed explanation of the auction process for broadcasters. 

The second panel focused on the economic issues related to the sale of the spectrum. In particular, the economists included Prof. Thomas Hazlett, George Mason Law School; Coleman Bazelon, Brattle Group; Mark Fratrik, BIA / Kelsey; Armand Musey, Summit Ridge Group, LLC Moderator.   The economists noted the difficulties and complexities in determining the value of spectrum for broadcasters in preparation for the auction.   

The third panel discussed the policy issues of the TV Incentive Auction. Panelists included: Dr. Preston Marshall, Information Sciences Institute, USC; Dan Kirkpatrick, Partner, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth; Trey Hanbury, Partner, Hogan Lovells; and, Barlow Keener, Principal, Keener Law Group Moderator. The policy issues centered on providing exclusivity, unlicensed spectrum and exclusively licensed spectrum.

The event is the first TV Incentive Auction webinar that looked at these issues in great detail. The webinar and the material including the PowerPoint presentations and papers are now available online. This webinar is a “must see” for broadcasters, broadcasters' attorneys and state and federal regulators.

If you are either a broadcaster or a spectrum licensee this discussion is vital to your understanding of the opportunity. If you are coming to Miami for the Super Wi-Fi Summit, you can understand the implementation opportunity. If you watch the virtual event you can get a sense of the opportunities for spectrum acquisition. 

All of the activity is trying to make sure you get your share. 

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

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