As anticipated, members of the FCC formally approved the launch of proceedings on proposed rules that would govern incentive auctions of television spectrum that would be surrendered voluntarily by broadcasters for wireless broadband use. Also, in a related action that responds to the requests of wireless carriers and public interest organizations, the FCC adopted a rulemaking notice (NPRM) on potential changes to the agency’s current case-by-case procedure for evaluating mobile spectrum holdings. Those changes may include the revival of spectrum caps that were eliminated by the FCC a decade ago. The incentive auction item, approved at last Friday’s FCC open meeting, mirrors the draft NPRM that was circulated three weeks ago by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, proposing both a “reverse” auction of broadcast spectrum and a “forward” auction of channels reclaimed from participating broadcasters that would be conducted simultaneously in 2014. While also proposing set-asides of unlicensed “white space” spectrum in each market to be used for Wi-Fi, the incentive auction NPRM seeks comment on additional proposals that include the imposition of interoperability mandates in the 700 MHz band, and “whether and how to address the post-auction availability of UHF band spectrum for fixed broadcast auxiliary stations, low-power auxiliary stations, and unlicensed wireless microphones.”Meanwhile, the NPRM on wireless spectrum holdings requests input on whether the FCC should retain its current spectrum screen policy, which is triggered when mergers or other transactions would result in a single entity controlling more than one-third of the wireless spectrum in a given market. As part of any alternate approach that may include “bright line” limits such as spectrum caps, the NPRM seeks comment on (1) additional spectrum bands to be included in the FCC’s analysis, (2) whether spectrum from different bands should be treated differently according to their perceived market value, (3) potential changes to the FCC’s attribution rules, and (3) whether the FCC’s geographic market analysis should be updated “to consider the impacts of mobile spectrum holdings at the national as well as local levels.” Although Genachowski characterized the NPRM as a first step in enabling “a healthy and competitive wireless marketplace with clear and predictable rules of the road,” Commissioner Ajit Pai stressed the importance of ensuring a successful incentive auction as he cautioned against “any steps that would depress participation in the auction, such as tightening the spectrum screen, adopting a hard cap on spectrum holdings, or imposing requirements that would enable the Commission to second-guess how wireless operators run their networks.” Similarly, while voicing support for the NPRM, an official of Mobile Future declared it “particularly important that this proceeding not unduly limit participation in the upcoming incentive auctions, other spectrum auctions or secondary market transactions, so that the spectrum can flow to as many users as possible.”