updated 10:45 pm EST, Thu February 26, 2009
Wireless spectrum fee
President Obama has proposed a spectrum licensing fee that will apply to wireless operators, in an effort to create a new source of revenue to battle the enormous deficit, according to CNET News. The fees would apply to carriers that license part of the wireless spectrum from the government, with prices starting at $50 million per user this year and growing to $200 million in 2010. Licensees eventually will each pay $550 million after ten years.
A system already exists to bring in money from companies that win auctions for exclusive rights to parts of the spectrum. The recent notable auction involved the 700 MHz band left open due to the transition to digital TV broadcasting. The deal brought in a record $19.6 billion for the government, while the new plan could bring in an estimated $4.8 billion over the next ten years.
The legislation is expected to draw criticism and resistance from carriers, although the debate is just in the beginning stages. "We are currently reviewing the details of the proposal and look forward to participating in the next stages of this issue," CTIA said in a statement, while AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and Verizon declined to comment at this point.
The plans are only generally outlined in the budget plan for 2009 and 2010. More details are anticipated later in the year as the Obama administration presents a budget package containing additional details.