Ex-FCC honcho Hundt slams House spectrum bill

Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt last week voiced strong opposition of spectrum legislation circulating in the U.S. House of Representatives. Network World has an insightful interview Hundt that delves further into his position. He clearly outlines his reasons for opposing the legislation, discusses why a Senate bill might do a better job of addressing the situation and-we're pretty sure on this one-indirectly claims responsibility for inventing Wi-Fi.

One of Hundt's biggest problems with the House, not surprisingly, is that it strips the FCC of a lot of power to manage bidder eligibility on what might be called an arbitrary basis. Hundt says that is one of the most important facets of managing the spectrum auction process. He should know, having been at the FCC during the PCS C Block spectrum auctions  in the 1990s, auctions the later came under fire when some of the bidders were unable to meet the financial requirements to be awarded the spectrum they had successfully bid for, leaving valuable spectrum locked up in some cases in bankruptcy litigation.

Hundt also says the House bill leaves it open for a single company to dominate spectrum auctions by not restricting ability to buy up all the licenses available, which Hundt called anti-competitive.

The former FCC Chairman described the House spectrum bill as the worst telecom bill he has ever seen. Some observers that remember the PCS C Block auction might say that it was the worst auction experience they have ever had. It is not really clear whether Hundt criticized the bill because he learned a lot from what went wrong with the auctions he oversaw, or because he has conveniently forgotten that the FCC has not been such a perfect auction host in the past. Though, Hundt is clear and correct for blaming Congress for delaying the availability of much-needed (according to most in the industry) spectrum.

Either way, it appears that Hundt believes the FCC can do very little wrong, while Congress, in attempting to bring reform to spectrum auctions, can do very little right.

For more:
- check out this Network World interview

Related article:
Seybold's take: Congress is delaying spectrum availability
AT&T and the FCC have sparred over incentive spectrum auctions

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