Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/14/07 (700 MHz)

Not Pulling Punches on Airwaves Auction
SaveThe Internet
Guest Blog Post by Sen. John Kerry

I welcome this opportunity from the folks at to let you know directly my thoughts on the “700″ auction. This is a very important issue, and I really commend the work done by everyone involved in the effort to get so much activism built up around what can be an arcane discussion.  There are a lot of powerful forces working to get the same-old/same-old, big-money auction; I’ve already gotten a letter from an industry group challenging my stance.   —>

A huge battle is taking place in Washington right now over a seemingly arcane issue with a very intimidating name — the 700 MHz Auction.
by Bob Williams
Now Hear This Electronic Newsletter

Although most consumers don’t know it, they have a huge stake in this fight. It could determine whether a whole new generation of “Gee Whiz” wireless devices will be developed, and how much they will cost. It will help determine whether you can use your wireless devices virtually anywhere, and how much that will cost.

So what is the 700 MHz Auction?  It’s really pretty simple. The government has ordered television broadcasters to return a large chunk of the free airwaves they have used for decades when they switch over to digital broadcasting in February 2009. Those returned airwaves — which are located along the 700 Megahertz portion of the broadcast spectrum — are highly prized because they are able to travel fairly long distances and penetrate structures.

The Federal Communications Commission plans to auction exclusive licenses to this coveted portion of the spectrum and is in the process of writing the bidding rules. And those bidding rules are what the current hubbub in Washington is all about.

On one side are phone and cable companies — who currently provide nearly all of the country’s broadband service — as well as many wireless service providers such as Verizon and AT&T. Although they have some differences, this side generally wants to see the 700 MHz spectrum auctioned off to the highest bidder — as the FCC has done in past spectrum auctions.

On the other side is a broad coalition of technology companies, public interest groups and consumer organizations, including Consumers Union, which sponsors and this blog. There are also some differences within this coalition, but one overriding goal is to fashion bidding rules that would allow for the creation of a nationwide wireless broadband system to compete with the phone and cable companies.   —>

Spectrum Public Safety Plan Meets Resistance at Hearing
A plan to have private investors build a national wireless broadband network for emergency workers met resistance.
by Grant Gross
PC World

A plan to have private investors build a national wireless broadband network for police and fire departments met resistance at a U.S. Senate hearing Thursday, including from the man in charge of New York’s emergency broadband network.  Startup Frontline Wireless LLC, backed by two former U.S. Federal Communications Commission chairmen and several tech industry heavyweights, would set aside 22MHz of wireless spectrum from an upcoming auction of the 700MHz band for a dual-use commercial and emergency response network, with the winning bidder required to build a nationwide network that would give priority to police and fire departments…

But several people at the hearing, including Paul Cosgrave, commissioner of the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, questioned the Frontline plan. New York has already built a US$500 million emergency network that will roll out fully in early 2008, and the Frontline proposal could take away local control of emergency communications networks, he said.

Spectrum that’s optimal to use for emergency communications in New York may not work for Boise, Idaho, he said. “A national network, based on a one-size-fits-all approach, may not meet the disparate communication needs of emergency responders throughout the country,” Cosgrave said.  In addition, if emergency responders must share spectrum with commercial providers, the network may be jammed during disasters, Cosgrave said. The proposed network will be “dominated by commercial interests, and deployment and maintenance will be undertaken based on return on investment rather than effective emergency response,” he added.   —>,132932-c,wireless/article.html

Google lobbies for ‘open’ wireless networks
Net neutrality rules for broadband died last year, but now Google and its old allies are pushing for similar rules on wireless networks.
by Anne Broache

Google and its allies may have lost key Capitol Hill votes on Net neutrality laws last year, but now they’re mounting a counterattack: a lobbying effort to extend similar rules to forthcoming wireless broadband networks.

As part of a congressionally mandated switchover to digital television broadcasts, the federal government is preparing to auction off a generous chunk of the 700MHz broadcast TV band by early next year. Wireless companies are eager to bid on it because its signals can travel farther and easily penetrate walls–qualities that lend themselves to widespread, wireless broadband networks.

The Federal Communications Commission will decide whether to impose so-called “open access” rules on winners of the upcoming auction of analog TV spectrum.  The issue is reuniting old Net neutrality allies, with Google, liberal advocacy groups and wireless technologists lobbying for such rules and telecommunications giants in the other camp.

But a key question, set to be discussed at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Thursday morning, is whether open access rules–a close cousin of last year’s legislative tussles over Net neutrality–should be levied on at least some of the companies that win licenses through the auction. In charge of deciding that point is the Federal Communications Commission, which is still finalizing its rules for the proceeding.  That has led to a renewal of old alliances.   —>

Democratic FCC Commissioner Adelstein: No IPhone For You!
by Matt Stoller

Guess which FCC Commissioner is holding up a universal national wireless network?  It’s not a Republican, it’s Jonathan Adelstein, who doubts that a national wireless business will bid for spectrum.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, FCC, media ownership, media reform, net neutrality, spectrum auction

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