It's just over a month since Tom Wheeler was sworn in as FCC chairman, and today saw one of his most consequential decisions yet: the delay of a crucial spectrum auction into 2015. The move, which would open up spectrum currently held by broadcast television, had been pegged for 2014 since it was announced last year. But in the time since, we've seen three different FCC heads, and in the midst of the turmoil, Wheeler has decided to push the unusually complex auction to the middle of 2015.
Part of the reason for the shift seems to be concern over the technology involved, influenced by recent problems with healthcare.gov. "Policy challenges are only part of the picture," Wheeler wrote in his announcement. "We must also get the enabling technology right." The new chairman envisions an entirely new procedure for the auction, aided by an FCC-specific operating system and software. Wheeler likens the simultaneous development of the stack to solving a Rubik's Cube, and says more time is necessary to make sure the process goes smoothly. The FCC's auction task force will reveal more details at a meeting in January.