WASHINGTON, July 30, 2010 – Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher, in coordination with ranking member Cliff Stearns, unveiled a new bill aimed at addressing America’s scarce supply of spectrum. The legislation, titled the “Voluntary Incentive Auctions Act,” would permit the Federal Communications Commission to conduct incentive-based spectrum auctions in which a spectrum holder voluntarily relinquishes its spectrum in return for a portion of the auction proceeds.
“Each year, millions of users graduate from basic cell phones to smart phones that employ a range of data services requiring far greater bandwidth than traditional cell phones,” said Boucher, D-Va. “At the same time, smart phone applications are becoming more elaborate. The combination is placing unprecedented demands on our limited wireless spectrum availability.”
Stearns, R-Fla., struck a harsher note. “We are facing a looming spectrum crisis,” he said. “It’s very clear that the U.S. will need additional spectrum to meet the growing demand for wireless broadband.”
The legislation is aimed at fulfilling a recommendation of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, which argues that companies should be able to voluntarily relinquish their spectrum in order to see profits from government auctions.
Boucher and Stearns’ legislation marks a move in that direction.