Congress takes on failure of D-block auction

The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet this week took on failure of the D-block band to gain any reasonable bids during the 700 MHz auction. The result: There was no consensus on what the next plan should be.

The D-block spectrum carried a $1.3 billion reserve requirement and was designed as a public-private partnership whereby a commercial operator would run the network and give priority access to public safety.

During the hearing, some Congressional members said they agreed that the public-private partnership structure the FCC stipulated for the auction remain, but with some changes to attract more bidders. The changes might include a lower reserve price and greater detail regarding the business model for the winner of the spectrum. The FCC also favors this approach.

Others expressed interest in auctioning the D block without the public-private stipulation and using the proceeds to fund a nationwide public-safety network.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said the FCC would welcome this or other federally funded alternatives, but that would be the decision of Congress, not the FCC.

To read more about the public-safety hearing:
- check out this article from MRT Magazine