FCC grants more time for comments on AWS-3 auction plans

The FCC has agreed to extend the comment period for its controversial plan to auction nationwide spectrum in the AWS band that would require the winner to offer free wireless broadband services. Yesterday was supposed to be the comment deadline on the plan, but the FCC set new comment and reply comment deadlines for July 25 and Aug. 11.

Earlier this week it appeared the FCC was ready to push the plan through, despite the heavy criticism it has received from mobile operators and Republican lawmakers who see the plan as a repeat of the failed 700 MHz D-block auction.

The commission is proposing to combine the 2155 to 2175 MHz band with the 2175 MHz to 2180 MHz band to create a 25-megahertz swath of spectrum that would support a nationwide license. The spectrum is referred to as advanced wireless services-3 and would require the licensee to dedicate 25 percent of its network capacity to free broadband service, install a network-based Internet filtering system to block pornography and allow open access to third-party devices and applications.

T-Mobile, the biggest winner in the AWS-1 auction in 2006, has been the most vocal opponent, and has claimed that more time is necessary to make sure use of the adjacent spectrum doesn't cause interference. The FCC granted the operate the shorter of its two requested comment deadline extensions even though T-Mobile said it preferred an extra 90 days for public comment.

"It is the policy of the commission that extensions of time shall not be routinely granted," the FCC stated. "Nevertheless, in this instance, we find that providing additional time for filing comments will serve the public interest by ensuring the development of a more complete and well-developed record in response to the [further notice of proposed rulemaking]."

For more:
- check out RCR Wireless News

Related stories:
Anxiety rises over FCC's AWS-3 auction plans. Auction story
Report: AWS-3 license would fetch $2.8B without FCC's condition. AWS-3 story

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