Genachowski puts economic impact of voluntary spectrum auctions at $300 billion

Arguing that voluntary incentive auctions are a key tool in the effort to free up portions of spectrum for broadband communications, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski told participants at a recent wireless industry conference that such spectrum auctions could generate as much as $300 billion in benefits to U.S. consumers.

Speaking at the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association’s (CTIA’s) annual conference and convention in Orlando, FL, Genachowski pointed to experience with past FCC auction experience as the basis for his projection of a ten-fold return over the value that the sale of unused spectrum would generate at auction.  Estimates by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and others place the direct potential value of future such spectrum auctions at approximately $30 billion.

Congress is currently considering legislation that would grant the FCC the authority to run two-sided, voluntary spectrum auctions.  Under the proposed scheme, spectrum for the auction would be voluntarily contributed by current licenses, including TV broadcasters and mobile satellite operators, and then auctioned off for wireless broadband use, with a portion of the auction proceeds going back to the original licensees.

The spectrum auction proposal reportedly has the support of President Obama, as well as bipartisan support in Congress.

“A voluntary incentive auction can provide a capital infusion for those broadcasters that choose to participate,” Genachowski told CTIA Wireless 2011 attendees.  “And, the incentive auction proposal provides an incentive-based, market –driven path to tackle the spectrum crunch.”

As further evidence of the economic catalyst provided by expanded wireless broadband capacity, Genachowski cited data from the High Spectrum Coalition that the investment required to roll-out 4G wireless technologies could create as many as 205,000 additional jobs.

Read the complete text of Genachowski’s remarks at CTIA Wireless 2011.