The FCC's spectrum auction will help open up more airwaves for data-hungry consumers.
The FCC's spectrum auction will help open up more airwaves for data-hungry consumers. - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

The Federal Communications Commission is announcing Friday that TV stations have until Dec. 18 to decide whether they want to auction off some of their spectrum licenses to the FCC. 

The FCC will then auction them to wireless carriers and others. The idea is to open up more airwaves for data-hungry consumers.

“You’re going to be able to stream video on your mobile device and not have to worry about buffering every five minutes,” said Blair Levin, a former executive director of the FCC’s national broadband plan, now at the Brookings Institution.

What’s in it for the TV stations?

“A lot of money,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Wheeler said he knows some TV stations aren’t happy, because if they don’t agree to sell some spectrum, they’ll be relocated to a new part of the airwaves. The broadcasters' trade association has even filed lawsuits. But Wheeler maintains he has to balance supply and demand.

“How do you make sure that the spectrum is put to its highest and best use?” he said. Wheeler said the auction is the best answer, even if it doesn’t please everyone.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.