Congress asks FCC to explain D-block spectrum failure
At a hearing of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee and only a few weeks after the widely acknowledged success of the advanced wireless spectrum auction, all five members of the FCC appeared before Congress to defend the rules surrounding the public safety D-block spectrum that was auctioned, and to explain why the block failed to attract anything beyond an opening bid.
The chairman of the commission was criticised by Republican members of the House panel for imposing conditions stipulating that the winning bidder, in partnership with the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST), fund the build-out of a public safety network. It was suggested that in all likelihood these conditions decreased the value of what would otherwise have been a valuable government commodity.
The FCC defended their decision by claiming that without an enforced private-public partnership there would not be sufficient funds to build the proposed public safety network. In doing so the FCC also blamed Congress for its failure to allocate enough federal funding for the project, thus forcing the FCC to adopt the D-block rules.
When questions were asked about what the FCC intended to do with the as yet unsold spectrum, the FCC chairman said he believed a public-private partnership was still the best option available. Some Republican members of the House committee, however, said they believed the D-block spectrum should be sold to the commercial wireless industry, and that a portion of the proceeds from the sale should then be given directly to the public safety sector. This suggestion was, however, met with disapproval from the chairman of the overarching House Commerce Committee.
Democratic lawmakers also expressed their disappointed that the large incumbent wireless telcos were the big winners in the auction, rather than a new entrant as was hoped.
See also: USA – Broadband Market – Wireless Broadband.
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