Debate grows over 700MHz auction

A group of 21 small and medium sized wireless and wireline carriers as well as state agencies are concerned that the FCC plan to favor large geographic wireless licenses over small ones during the 700 MHz auction in the fall. Alltel, Aloha Partners, Dobson, Leap Wireless, MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular and the Rural Cellular Association are among the concerned parties. The coalition descended on Washington this week to air their grievances with the House Telecom subcommittee. 

Cellular South's president, Victor Meena said, ""If the FCC does not have multiple small and medium blocks with paired spectrum, all small and regional carriers will be forced to compete against each other in one or two blocks of spectrum, while the large carriers will have the very large spectrum blocks to themselves because smaller carriers cannot compete in the auction for those licenses."

The larger carriers have mixed reactions to the group's concerns: T-Mobile USA and Sprint's cable MSO JV, Spectrum Co., embrace the group's call for a variety of spectrum blocks. Verizon Wireless, however, sent the FCC an economic study that proclaims large wireless service areas lead to efficiencies whereby cost and delays associated with organizing the smaller licenses disappear.

During an open meeting on April 25, the FCC plans to vote on the plan for the 700 MHz auction as well as petitions from companies like Frontline regarding public safety usage of the spectrum.

For more on the 700 MHz auction:
- see this article from RCR News