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More auctions of unused spectrum under FCC proposed budget

The proposed $352.5 billion budget for the U.S. Federal Communications Commission calls for continuing indefinitely to auction off unused electromagnetic spectrum, a process that was set to expire Sept. 30, 2012.

The FCC budget submitted to Congress by President Barack Obama for fiscal year 2011, along with the budget for the rest of the federal government, includes authority for the FCC to continue auctions of available spectrum for new technology, such as wireless broadband Internet access. Those auctions could raise $1.6 billion for the U.S. treasury through 2020, according to the budget proposal.

The budget also calls for imposing a user fee on unauctioned spectrum licenses to raise an additional $4.8 billion between 2010 and 2020.

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The FCC also proposes offering licenses for satellite radio services through competitive bidding. Such satellite licenses had been auctioned off earlier, but a 2005 federal court ruling questioned the practice on technical grounds. The budget calls for legislation to authorize auctions for “domestic satellite services.” It estimates these licenses could raise $200 million through 2020.


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