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4/5/2007
07:04 PM
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Coalition Pushes FCC For Open Spectrum Auction

Save Our Spectrum puts pressure on the feds to auction off old TV analog airwaves for the benefit of consumers.

The battle over control of old television spectrum is heating up as the age of analog broadcasts comes to a close.

First responders are vying to get as much unused spectrum as they can to improve interoperable communications, while a new coalition wants the Federal Communications Commission to auction 700 MHz spectrum to create competition for high-speed Internet service.

The Save Our Spectrum Coalition announced Thursday that it is asking the FCC to auction the spectrum and services operated on it in a way that will encourage broadband competition for telephone and cable companies. It said that will ensure it benefits consumers.

The group has many of the same members as SaveTheInternet and backs network neutrality principles. Members of the coalition include Public Knowledge, Media Access Project, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, New America Foundation and Free Press.

"It is imperative that we learn the lessons of the wireline market and make the appropriate policy corrections in the launch of the most promising wireless broadband markets," an open-access filing, coordinated by Consumers Union said. "Wireless broadband has not been a useful 'third pipe' and will not be in the near future if this spectrum is auctioned to the very same vertically integrated telephone and cable incumbents that dominate the wireline market."

Save Our Spectrum wants the spectrum to operate in an open manner allowing consumers to use any equipment, content, application or service without interference or discrimination from the network provider.

The group is trying to make sure that if major providers bid on the spectrum they do so through separate affiliates operating under open access conditions.

The FCC is scheduled to announce plans for the auction this month.

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