FCC OKs Proposal To Slash Bid Price Of D-Block Spectrum


The five FCC commissioners agreed to cut the block price to $750 million from $1.3 billion, and the proposal will be open to public comment period for 30 days. The airwaves are up for grabs as television broadcasters switch to digital in February 2009. In the first auction, 59 megahertz were sold.

Rules surrounding the remaining chunk of the spectrum include the creation of a 10-megahertz license in the D Block to be part of a public/private partnership with the adjacent 10 megahertz of spectrum dedicated to a Public Safety Broadband License. The auction winner is therefore required to open up some of the airwaves to first responders such as police, firefighters and other emergency personnel.

"There is a crisis across the country," said FCC spokesman Robert Kenny. "Right now, the police can only talk to police, etc. After 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and Ike, concerns have grown about the ability to communicate across different agencies and jurisdictions."

In a different auction held in March, Verizon won the C-block of the 700 MHz band while AT&T snagged licenses in regional licenses in the C block around the U.S. Verizon spent more than $9 billion, and AT&T over $6 billion in the auction that included an "open-access" provision in which users on roughly one-third of the airwaves would be able to use any phone or software and see other data services expanded.

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