WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. investment banker has joined the Federal Communications Commission as an unpaid special adviser to help the agency prepare for next year's auction of broadcast airwaves to wireless carriers, an agency spokesman confirmed on Wednesday.
Lawrence Chu, who began helping the FCC make financial projections for the auction last year, has left his managing director position at New York investment bank Greenhill & Co.
Chu's full-time focus on the auction, slated to be the FCC's most complex, comes at a critical time when TV station owners and investors are deciding whether to participate. Formal applications are expected to be due in the fall.
FCC officials, alongside Chu, this month started a road show that will run through May, during which they will hold town halls and private meetings with broadcasters to drum up interest in the auction by explaining the process and potential financial windfall using Greenhill estimates.
The success of the auction hinges on TV stations first volunteering to relinquish airwaves, for example going off air or sharing frequencies with another station. As broadcasters bid to sell their spectrum, wireless companies would bid to buy it, determining how much TV stations get paid.
Chu would become the latest expert the FCC has brought in as a special adviser as the agency sometimes engages outside specialists such as economists or engineers for particular projects.
Chu leaves Greenhill after helping advise Frontier Communications Corp board on a purchase of wireline assets from Verizon Communications Inc this month.
Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Lisa Shumaker