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FCC warned not to waste spectrum

WASHINGTON — House Republicans warned the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday against giving away scarce airwaves that it could auction to telecommunications companies for use in mobile broadband.

The remarks, which came at a hearing by a House communications subcommittee, took direct aim at one of the top priorities of Julius Genachowski, the FCC chairman: to expand the availability of unlicensed airwaves, or spectrum, in order to open up congested mobile broadband networks and for Wi-Fi hot spots.

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In September, the FCC proposed freeing up as much as 12 megahertz of spectrum for those unlicensed uses. The unlicensed space on the electromagnetic spectrum would also be used as ‘‘guard bands,’’ which border segments of airwaves that are used by cellphone companies, broadcasters, and other communications entities, in order to limit interferences from other nearby users.

Representative Greg Walden, Republican of Oregon, chairman of the subcommittee on communications and technology, said the law that gave the FCC the ability to conduct ‘‘incentive auctions’’ of newly available spectrum required ‘‘maximizing the proceeds from the auction.’’

For maximum proceeds, guard bands should be no larger than necessary, Walden said, adding that the 6 megahertz size proposed by the FCC is unnecessarily fat.

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