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25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
A series of posts describing how this all came about. (Click on picture above)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

FCC Tries Again on D Block:
If at First You Don't Succeed, ...

At today's Commission meeting, FCC tried again on D block. The press release outlines a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) that "seeks public comment on how the Commission should proceed with the reauction and licensing of the 700 MHz D Block spectrum while maximizing the public safety and commercial benefits of a nationwide, interoperable broadband network. The text is here (101 pages).

The 2ndFNPRM will seek comment on
  • the rules governing public safety priority access to the network during emergencies
  • the performance requirements and license term;
  • whether to license the D Block and public safety broadband spectrum on a nationwide or regional basis;
  • the various fees associated with the shared network;
  • whether or not it would be appropriate for the Public Safety Broadband Licensee or any of its agents, advisors, or service providers to serve as a mobile virtual network operator to manage access and use of the 700 MHz D Block of spectrum by first responders;
  • the process for the D Block licensee and the Public Safety Broadband Licensee to negotiate a Network Sharing Agreement;
  • the potential for requirements that the Public Safety Broadband Licensee be a non-profit organization and that no for-profit entities, apart from certain outside advisors or counsel, be involved; and
  • auction-related issues, such as whether to restrict auction participation and how to determine a reserve price.
One could say that these should have been considered before. But there was a great rush to get the D band rules out with only a few weeks between the closing of comments and the multihundred page decision. Another way to look at the problem is to say simply that the FCC's new Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau was just too successful here. That is it marshalled the Commission's policy decision to be so much in favor of the public safety interests that no private party in their right mind would bid on the D block under the original rules. The more I read the decision, I was amazed that their was even one bidder! Did anyone with an MBA read the draft rules before they were adopted and advise the 8th Floor on the likelihood than an investor would find them attractive? In a partnership, it takes "two to tango".

The public/private partnership has to have advantages for both sides. The new notices shows that is being reexamined.

RCR's article
on the new notice also mentioned that
"(s)hortly after the agency’s 5-0 vote on the D Block, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) introduced legislation to authorize $4 million to begin funding the Public Safety Spectrum Trust Corp. — the 700 MHz public-safety broadband licensee — that would partner with a winning commercial D-Block bidder under the shared wireless broadband network model."
This is a positive move that could eliminate the questionable Cyren Call funding of PSST - even though the FCC IG found no problem with it.

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