As the FCC continues its work on the national broadband plan, the Justice Department (DOJ) and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) urged the FCC to free up additional spectrum for broadband services as they stressed the importance of ensuring that reallocated frequencies are not snapped up by incumbents for the purpose of thwarting competitive entry. In separate ex parte filings to the FCC on Monday, the DOJ and the NTIA offered their advice on the formulation of the broadband plan that the FCC is now expected to present to Congress in March. Asserting that spectrum comprises a key ingredient in promoting competition against incumbent wireline and cable-based broadband providers, the DOJ recommended that the FCC reallocate for broadband use spectrum that is currently “underutilized,” adding that the FCC should consider reallocating specific frequency bands “when the total value of that spectrum is significantly greater in a new use than in its existing use.” While touting the value of spectrum auctions, the DOJ cautioned that auctions “can go wrong in the presence of strong wireline and wireless incumbents, since the private value for incumbents in a given locale includes not only the revenue from the use of spectrum but also any benefits gained from preventing rivals from eroding the incumbents’ existing business.” As such, the DOJ suggested that the FCC conduct auctions in which incumbent bids would be “discounted (for the sole purpose of determining who wins, not how much they pay) to reflect [the] foreclosure value” to the incumbent of using auctioned spectrum to forestall competitive entry. The DOJ further recommended that, when examining relevant markets to determine the state of broadband competition, the FCC should focus on “functional experience from the perspective of the customer, not the particular technology used by the provider.” Echoing the DOJ, the NTIA voiced its support for “exploring both commercial and government spectrum available for reallocation” to broadband providers. To free up spectrum for broadband use, NTIA also said the FCC should “create incentives for more efficient use of limited spectrum resources, such as dynamic or opportunistic frequency sharing arrangements in both licensed and unlicensed” bands.