A key U.S. lawmaker expressed support on Thursday for a proposal by communications regulators to give auction proceeds to broadcasters as an incentive to give up some airwaves highly sought by wireless broadband providers.
Representative Rick Boucher, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, called the proposal by the Federal Communications Commission the right approach.
Last week the FCC unveiled its National Broadband Plan, a blueprint aimed at bringing faster Internet speeds to all U.S. households at affordable prices.
The blueprint, which was requested by Congress, also proposes that broadcasters like CBS Corp
The approach, which would need Congressional approval, would give wireless carriers desperately needed spectrum for their mobile devices, such as the iPhone and Blackberry.
However, in a sign that there could be opposition to the plan, Democrat John Dingell said he was concerned because broadcasters already gave up airwaves during the digital transition, and it could hamper the promotion of diversity and localism.
Further loss of spectrum can have a very serious adverse affect on the public, Dingell said at the hearing to examine the FCC's broadband plan.
In the plan the FCC is seeking to free 500 megahertz of airwaves for mobile broadband services over the next decade. The agency wants additional authority from Congress to conduct those auctions.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and wireless companies such as AT&T Inc
(Reporting by John Poirier, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)