Verizon urges scrapping D-Block auction process

Verizon Wireless is proposing Congress and the FCC scrap a plan to re-auction the 700 MHz D-Block and instead focus on a new plan to create a nationwide, interoperable, 4G broadband network for first responders, according to a company executive.

Steve Zipperstein, Verizon's vice president for legal and external affairs and the carrier's general counsel, said the government should not rehash a process that has already failed (D-Block bids during last year's 700 MHz auction did not pass the required $1.3 billion reserve). Thus, Zipperstein argued for a new approach--one far different than the FCC's proposed D-Block re-auction.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Zipperstein called for allocating the D-Block spectrum directly to public safety organizations on a state, local and regional basis, which he said would give public safety more control over the spectrum. Zipperstein said that "bold action" was necessary to "overcome the inertia" of creating an interoperable network for public safety.

Zipperstein also said this new plan would require "a national technical framework" to ensure nationwide interoperability, using IP-based solutions. Finally, Zipperstein said "public safety should be free to select the commercial partner or partners of their choice, using an RFP process or similar competitive approach to best meet their individual needs." 

"By establishing a national plan that follows these principles, and providing state and local government with federal funding to implement the plan, Congress puts the country in the best position to address its emergency communications need," Zipperstein said.

Zipperstein acknowledged his proposal would require Congressional legislation, but he said that it has wide support from the public safety community and that the new administration and Congress would be receptive to it. Zipperstein said the plan would cost between $15 billion and $20 billion, but said public safety organizations would be able to leverage existing network infrastructure and investments and thereby save money.

Since the FCC failed to attract bidders to the D-Block during last year's 700 MHz spectrum auction--the agency required winning bidders to share the spectrum with first responders--it proposed in September 2008 a plan to create three alternate sets of D-Block spectrum, one for a national network and two regional networks.

A spokesman for the FCC declined to comment, saying the FCC does not comment on outside speeches or filings. 

Separately, Verizon released its initial set of technical specifications for devices that will run on its LTE network. 

For more:
- see Zipperstein's remarks
- see Verizon's LTE release

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