Telecom operators urge FCC to change proposed AWS-3 auction rules

A group of wireless and wireline carriers including T-Mobile, CTIA, U.S. Cellular and the Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Alliance filed a letter with the FCC asking the commission to consider changing its proposed rules pertaining to the AWS-3 auction the FCC plans to vote on Dec. 18.

The FCC wants to auction a nationwide license in the 2155-2180 MHz band that would require the winning bidder to open up 25 percent of its network for free broadband access. M2Z has been lobbying the FCC for these rules as the company said it was capable of capitalizing on such a business plan. The letter urges the FCC to adopt rules that allow multiple opportunities for companies to compete for licenses.

"Contrary to assertions by M2Z, we believe that this spectrum is very valuable," the group wrote. "Specifically, the commission should adopt rules that enable multiple opportunities for new wireless broadband deployments across the country and reject, once and for all, the M2Z-backed proposal that would mandate (as opposed to permit) a single company's business plan and technical requirements and threaten the prospects of mobile wireless broadband competitors utilizing the adjacent bands."

T-Mobile is concerned about AWS-3 band signals interfering with its AWS-1 spectrum operations. An FCC engineering report concluded interference wasn't a problem, but T-Mobile begs to differ.

President Bush's top telecom policy adviser, Meredith Attwell Baker, also disagrees with the stipulations FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wants to place on the licensee.

In particular, the group of operators want the FCC to take the following actions: License the spectrum within smaller geographic areas and change the band plan in a way the operators say would optimize broadband services. They want the AWS-3 band paired with the J block to create a single asymmetric license combining the 2020-2025 MHz block used for uplink with the 2155-2180 MHz block used for downlink. The also propose that the FCC license the AWS-3 spectrum in multiple spectrum blocks.

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