FCC cancels December vote on AWS-3

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on Friday canceled the commission's Dec. 18 meeting where the FCC was set to vote on a free wireless Internet plan using AWS-3 spectrum, after receiving a letter from key lawmakers urging him to delay the vote.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Va., and Rep. Henry Waxman, D.-Calif., who will chair the committees overseeing the FCC in the next Congress, sent a letter urging Martin to hold off on the vote. The two asked Martin and the FCC to instead focus more on the digital TV transition that will take place in February.

The free wireless Internet proposal, pushed by Martin, would create a nationwide license in the 2155-2180 MHz band and require the winning bidder to open up 25 percent of its network for free broadband access with a filter to keep pornography off of it. M2Z Networks, an advocate of this plan, had also pushed for these rules.

Telecom heavyweights, most notably T-Mobile USA, argued that broadband service in this spectrum would create interference in the AWS-1 spectrum (which FCC engineers have disputed), and that an auction should not be tailored to any one specific business.  

"It would be counter-productive for the FCC to consider unrelated items, especially complex and controversial items that the new Congress and new Administration will have an interest in reviewing," Rockefeller and Waxman said in the letter.

In the face of mounting pressure to hold off on the vote, which included a letter from Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez expressing the White House's displeasure with the plan, the FCC decided to cancel the meeting.

"We received the letter from Senator Rockefeller and Congressman Waxman today and spoke with other offices," said FCC spokesman Robert Kenny on Friday. "In light of the letter, it does not appear that there is consensus to move forward and the agenda meeting has been canceled."

M2Z maintains that a delay in the vote constitutes a violation of statutory deadlines and a violation of the Communications Act. M2Z cites an October letter from Rep. Hilda Solis, D.-Calif., and a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, to Martin that says action on AWS-3 technically should have been taken by Sept. 6 because of deadline provisions in the Communications Act.   

For more:
-see this article (sub. req.)
-see this post on the Rockefeller-Waxman letter
-see the Solis letter here

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