Updated: Oct 7, 2020
Next year, the FCC is scheduled to auction off valuable spectrum that is currently licensed and held by television broadcasters to be purchased by wireless companies who can convert the old broadcast TV spectrum into more useful services for consumers. We are concerned because even with the additional spectrum being auctioned off to wireless carriers, many experts are worried that we are going to hit another “Spectrum Crunch” where demand for mobile broadband surpasses the available capacity. Later this year the FCC will finalize the rules that will be used to govern these spectrum auctions, and if they do not set fair rules, consumers could lose the most. It is crucial for our community and consumers in general that the FCC sets rules for the spectrum auction to ensure that spectrum purchased is put to use in certain timeframes so as to prevent this vital resource from lying fallow. As is so typical in Washington, DC, there are some companies who are urging the FCC to adopt rules that would tilt the playing field in their favor, by requiring the government to set aside big portions of this valuable spectrum to be given to only certain companies, and at a discounted price. We don’t think this is right. Everyone should play by the same rules, and the FCC should not play favorites among all of the wireless carriers who are already competing vigorously in the market to earn their customers. The government should let the competitive auction process decide who receives what spectrum and at what price, by allowing all eligible companies to bid what they want to bid. Not only does this ensure companies are more willing to deploy the newly purchased spectrum to recoup their investment but also ensures taxpayers see the benefit of the spectrum auction by having billions of dollars return to the US treasury to support essential program for our communities. Many of these programs we’ve watched slowly slip away as the strain on our countries financial resources continues to increase. Given how important mobile broadband is to the LGBT community, it’s important that the FCC gets the auction rules right by ensuring fair and open process for all bidders, not favoring one company over another through unreasonable set asides. Fortunately, it seems like the FCC may be listening to consumers. Reports indicate that FCC Chairman Commissioner Tom Wheeler is poised to reject the set-aside request and allow the auctions to be open to everyone. We hope the other commissioners will follow suit. See our infographic in a previous blog post.