At a congressional hearing today on spectrum policy, Brattle principal Coleman Bazelon testified in support of the principle of spectrum reallocation, under which spectrum is reallocated from lower to higher valued use based on the current allocation.

In particular, he proposes that policymakers apply the principle of spectrum reallocation to the TV bands through the use of incentive auctions, which by design will not reallocate spectrum from a higher valued use to a lower value use. “Every band of spectrum should be examined with this Principle of Spectrum Reallocation in mind,” he stated in his testimony. “As long as there are financial gains and additional consumer welfare to be had from reallocating more spectrum, further reallocation should take place.” Dr. Bazelon also presented preliminary findings from an analysis he has undertaken on the potential impact of an incentive auction of the television bands. Among the findings he presented were:

  • An incentive auction could clear 120 MHz of spectrum that could be reallocated to wireless broadband uses.
  • Payments to broadcasters in an incentive auction would probably not be more than about $15 billion, but would likely be much less.
  • Expected revenues from auctioning 120 MHz of spectrum would likely exceed $35 billion.
  • An incentive auction would be expected to raise at least $20 billion for deficit reduction or for other priorities Congress may have such as funding a public safety network.

The hearing before the Subcommittee on Communication and Technology was on “Using Spectrum to Advance Public Safety, Promote Broadband, Create Jobs, and Reduce the Deficit.” Please use the link below to download Dr. Bazelon’s complete testimony.

Oral Testimony