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Bush budget tallies $21 billion from spectrum over next 5 years

President Bush’s 2008 budget plan would allow the Federal Communications Commission to assess fees on un-auctioned wireless licenses and to auction domestic satellite licenses, including future mobile satellite service spectrum used for supplemental land-based cellular networks.
The ad-ministration would need congressional legislation for expanded auction powers.
New spectrum fees would be phased in beginning in 2008 and raise a projected $3.6 billion over 10 years. The administration also wants Congress to extend FCC auction authority indefinitely. That authority is due to expire Sept. 30, 2011.
Meantime, the administration anticipates generating $690 million from domestic satellite license auctions in the next decade, and pulling down another $1.5 billion specifically from the sale of ancillary terrestrial component, or ATC, MSS spectrum over the same period. The handful of existing MSS operators with ATC permits would not be affected under Bush’s $2.9 trillion total spending plan for fiscal 2008, which begins Oct. 1.
Overall, the White House estimates receipts of more than $21 billion from the sale of airwaves between 2006 and 2011. Bush aims to balance the budget by 2012.
The proposed 2008 budgets for the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration are $313 million and $18.5 million, respectively. The administration said it supports reforms to the universal service fund, including the reverse-auction approach pushed by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and backed by the mobile-phone industry.
The president’s budget also would eliminate the Telecommunications Development Fund, a venture-capital firm created in the 1996 telecom act. The TDF has received millions of dollars from interest on upfront payments from spectrum auction bidders. Many small telecom and high-tech startups TDF invested in during the past decade have failed.

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