Telecommunications Policy Update: EBS Auction Event Raises Important Questions

February 1, 2019

Last week, the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) hosted an event titled “Can a Voluntary Auction of the 2.5 GHz EBS Spectrum Help Close the Homework Gap?” The event featured a fireside chat with FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who has advocated for conducting an incentive auction to recapture EBS licenses, sell them to the commercial sector and direct the proceeds toward addressing the homework gap.

There is no doubt the homework gap is a real issue in the United States and that Commissioner Rosenworcel has been the strongest advocate for addressing it. As she explains, seven in ten teachers assign homework that required internet access, yet 30 percent of households lack that access.

However, while her incentive auction idea may be intriguing, essential details about it remain unanswered.

During the Q&A with the Commissioner, a variety of audience questions raised doubts about how incentive auction would work, if at all. Many of these same topics were debated in a panel that followed the fireside chat. You can watch a video recording of the event, including the fireside chat and the panel (starting at 34:00) here.

The EBS community – namely the National EBS Associationopposes an incentive auction for EBS. Important questions need to be answered about how an incentive auction might work both legally and functionally before the proposal should receive serious consideration.

For more on Voqal’s thoughts on this issue, check out our official statement about the event.