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FCC Restructures Spectrum for Auction
[August 05, 2005]

FCC Restructures Spectrum for Auction

TMCnet Wireless and Technology Columnist

The Federal Communications Commission this week has decided to make more radio frequency spectrum space available to 3G cellular and other wireless broadband operators to offer Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) such as voice, video and data.

The latest FCC order modifies a October 2003 ruling that governed about 90 MHz of spectrum space located between 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz. Back in December 2004, the agency announced its intentions to auction off that spectrum by as early as June 2006.

"I am committed to sticking to our schedule and conducting the AWS auction as soon as possible," said FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps in his prepared statement.

The FCC originally wanted to sell off large chunks of the spectrum in 30-MHz blocks but after the agency received written objections from five unidentified parties, it subsequently restructured the band plans and will now further split those chunks into 10-MHz and 20-MHz blocks. The latest order also provides for an additional 10-MHz of spectrum licensed by economic areas. As the agency stated in its order, it is taking all of these steps "to provide greater opportunities for smaller rural and regional providers to obtain access to this spectrum at auction."

"Since our original decision, diverse interests have come together to actively support an even better balance between smaller and larger license areas through a variety of changes to the AWS band plan, many of which we adopt today," said Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.

But because the FCC hasn't auctioned off such a large amount of valuable spectrum space in years, the FCC has also taken steps to ensure no improprieties occur with the auction process. The commission plans to initiate an official Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to determine whether or not to close a loophole that could be misused. In the past, some entities have cast themselves as small, rural operators in order to qualify for discounts of up to 25 percent in the bidding process, but in reality have already reached agreements with industry giants on the lease of their spectrum rights.

"If there is a loophole that could result in millions of dollars less in auction revenue without these being served, we should act expeditiously," Copps explained.

FCC commissioners ruled unanimously to adopt the latest measures.


Robert Liu is Executive Editor at TMCnet. Previously, he was Executive Editor at Jupitermedia and has also written for CNN, A&E, Dow Jones and Bloomberg. For more articles, please visit Robert Liu's columnist page.

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