In contrast, imposing an ad-hoc spectrum rule limiting carrier participation in the 600 MHz auction is likely to complicate and delay the auction despite bipartisan agreement -- at the FCC, in the Obama Administration and in Congress -- that speed is vital for allocating urgently needed spectrum to meet consumers' needs.

Good spectrum policy is about continuing to provide the best wireless service in the world so we stay connected 24/7 without delays, dropped calls or slow downloads. That keeps us happy, and for some of us, even spoiled. It requires designing an auction in which every qualified bidder has a chance to acquire the spectrum needed to satisfy its customers. It means keeping auction rules "simple," as FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has suggested.

To promote competition and innovation in the long run, it means addressing the spectrum screen in a separate rulemaking through an open process with public input.

Rick Boucher served for 28 years in the House of Representatives, where he was chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. Today he is honorary chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance and heads the government strategies practice at the law firm Sidley Austin, which represents communications companies among other clients.

If you liked this article you might like