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The CTIA issues its auction comments

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May 29, 2007

With the Federal Communications Commission's deadline for last-minute comments regarding the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction approaching, the CTIA has issued its notes on the FCC's proposed rulemaking.

The CTIA urged the commission, in its formal statement, to "adopt straight-forward, market-oriented rules and conduct the 700 MHz auction in accordance with the deadlines set forth in the DTV Transition and Public Safety Act."

The wireless association also registered its opposition to four proposals, that it says "threaten to undermine the success of the auction and service deployment in the 700 MHz band."

The first area of the CTIA's objections include forced geographic build-out. The wireless associations comments point to market forces, not regulatory bodies, increasing carriers building in rural areas, calling mandated building in rural areas "unwise" and "uneconomic."

CTIA also urged the commission to reject any proposals that bar certain companies from competing in the auction, including existing providers of DSL service, cable modem service and any "large" wireless carrier. Citing, again, a flourishing wireless market that does not show signs of lacking competition.

Finally CTIA registered its objection to Frontline's proposal and the Open Access proposal. In its statement to the commission, CTIA called Frontline's plan, "full of legal risk, policy flaws, and business uncertainties," saying that the plan is full of conditions that are designed to "favor a single entity, Frontline."

As for the Open Access Plan, CTIA calls it "deeply misguided." Warning that leaving 30 MHz of spectrum open to use of any equipment, content, application or service, could "degrade network performance, create harmful interference, prevent carrier compliance with important social policy obligations, and open networks to greater security threats."

Along with its objections, CTIA also stressed that it's not looking for free spectrum, but is interested in "the right to compete at an open auction under fair, non discriminatory rules so that it can continue the mobility revolution and the broadband evolution."

Frontline also submitted last-minute comments to the FCC, this time agreeing with public safety officials' concerns that the operator awarded the public-private spectrum would not be motivated to build-out the network in rural areas with little or no commercial viability.

Public safety leaders have asked that the E-block license be granted only if the licensee reaches an agreement with public safety on its national network needs.

Frontlines's comments yesterday, expressed support for service rules around the E-Block, but did not go to bat for allowing public safety officials a veto on the licensee. Instead Frontline called for the E-Block licensee and public safety negotiating a deal, with the FCC serving as a mediator should an arrangement not be reached in the initial negotiations.

In its filing Frontline said, "This approach avoids giving either party a 'veto' over establishment of the crucial, public/private network for innovation and public-safety communications, but, importantly, incentivizes the E Block licensee to reach a mutually beneficial agreement with the NPSL (national public-safety licensee) in a timely manner."

The DTV Act says the auction for 60 MHz of spectrum in the upper 700 MHz band must start no later than Jan. 28, 2008. The FCC has yet to release guidelines for the auctions.

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Source: Wireless Week


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