Thursday, August 16, 2007

FCC Schedules 700 MHz Auction for 16-Jan-2008

The FCC will commence its auction of the 700 MHz band licenses on 16-January-2008. Specifically, the auction (designated as Auction 73) will include 1,099 licenses in the 698-806 MHz bands, including 176 licenses over Economic Areas (EAs) in the A Block, 734 licenses over Cellular Market Areas (CMAs) in the B Block, 176 licenses over EAs in the E Block, 12 licenses over Regional Economic Area Groupings (REAGs) in the C Block, and one nationwide license, to be used as part of the 700 MHz Public/Private Partnership, in the D Block.

The FCC is currently seeking public comment on a number of procedural issues including, among other things, procedures for anonymous bidding, to enhance competition by safeguarding against potential anti-competitive auction strategies; applicants trying to combine multiple C Block licenses to place bids on packages of those licenses; block-specific aggregate reserve prices, to help assure that the public recovers a portion of the licenses' value; and offering licenses for the relevant block (s) in a prompt subsequent auction in the event auction results do not satisfy applicable reserve prices.

  • In July 2007, the FCC approved new rules for the 700 MHz band, which will become available for new services in 2009 as television broadcasters complete their DTV migration. In what is seen as a partial victory for Google and other Internet players, the FCC voted to require "open access" for devices and applications using services delivered in these bands, while not requiring carriers to sell wholesale capacity in the licensed spectrum. The FCC expects to commence an auction for this spectrum no later than January 2008.

    The "open access" requirement would allow consumers to use the handset of their choice and download and use applications of their choice, subject to "reasonable network management requirements that allows the licensee to protect the network from harm."

    The FCC also approved a framework for a 700 MHz Public Safety / Private Partnership between the licensee for one of the commercial spectrum blocks and the licensee for the public spectrum block. Under this arrangement, the Public Safety licensee will have priority access to the commercial spectrum in times of emergency, and the commercial licensee will have preemptible, secondary access to the public safety broadband spectrum.