2007 federal budget: Communications highlights

The sale of U.S. wireless communications licenses will raise about $25 billion between 2007 and 2009, $7.8 billion more than last year's estimate, according to the 2007 budget submitted to Congress Monday. Here are some of the communication highlights from the proposed 2007 budget:

  • The FCC will start selling 90 MHz of wireless airwaves on June 29, an auction which could raise as much as $15 billion.
  • The auctioned airwaves will be used for advanced mobile communications such as high-speed Internet and video services. T-Mobile, Verizon and other U.S. wireless carriers are expected to bid in the sale.
  • The proposed budget estimates that $9.95 billion from wireless auctions would be received in fiscal 2007. It also expects $12.24 billion in fiscal 2008.
  • The budget projects $2.87 billion being received in fiscal 2009.
  • The total amount the administration expects to gather from auctions for 2007-2009 is thus $25.06 billion, considerably more than the $17.2 billion Bush's budget had estimated last year with regard to 2007-2009 spectrum auctions.
  • The increased auction proceeds would help the administration reduce the federal deficit: The proposed $2.77 trillion budget for fiscal 2007 leaves a $354 billion deficit for the year.
  • In early 2008 the FCC will also start selling wireless airwaves which are being vacated by TV broadcasters as they move to other frequencies for their higher-quality digital broadcasts. That move is supposed to be completed by February 17, 2009.
  • Last year Congress instructed the FCC to start that sale by January 28, 2008, and the proceeds to be deposited by June 30, 2008.
  • $7.4 billion in proceeds from that sale are to be used to help reduce the federal deficit.
  • $1.5 billion is set aside to help consumers buy converter boxes for their existing analog television sets.
  • $1 billion from the proceeds was allocated to a grant program to help public safety agencies buy new interoperable communications equipment so they are better able to communicate during emergencies.

For more on the proposed 2007 budget:
- see this blog entry from Engadget