FCC chief Martin: Auction must go on

As the 700 MHz auction draws ever nearer, speculation that the D-block of spectrum, which the now "closed for business" Frontline Wireless was expected to win, has reached a fever pitch. FCC chairman Kevin Martin gave some guidance on the auction during a press conference about the XM-Sirius acquisition.

Because of auction rules that require potential bidders to remain quiet, Frontline cannot disclose why it went out of business, but many assume that the soft market is responsible for its inability to raise sufficient funds to bid on the spectrum.

"Is this ideal time to be conducting an auction? I'm not so sure," Martin said, "but Congress has required us to go forward with that auction." Martin also looked to deflect criticism that the FCC tailored rules for the D-Block to Frontline Wireless, which could make it a difficult slice of spectrum to auction now. "None of the rules we adopted for the spectrum was put into place to facilitate entry by any company," Martin said.

Martin would not explain what the FCC would do should the D-Block not fetch its required price point: "It's premature to speculate what the commission might end up doing," Mr. Martin said. "We're still focused on this auction and still optimistic that someone will be willing to take on that burden to serve public safety."

For more on Martin's defense of the auction:
- read this report from the WSJ (sub. req.)

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