Congressional Hearings Planned On FCC 700-MHz Auction

Rep. John D. Dingell plans to hold a hearing on the FCC auction and how to create a nationwide, interoperable broadband network for public safety.
U.S. congressional leaders are planning hearings on the failure of the FCC's 700-MHz spectrum auction to generate high enough bids for the public-safety D block to reach its reserve price. That failure stopped an effort to build a nationwide wireless public-safety network in its tracks.

Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, said he plans to hold a hearing on the D block auction. The D block, which attracted a high bid of $472 million from Qualcomm, needed to hit a reserve price of $1.3 billion to be activated.

"The construction of a nationwide, next-generation, interoperable broadband network for public safety is a crucial policy objective, and the need for such a network has not diminished," said Dingell in a statement. He added that he hopes the FCC will quickly finish the details of the completed 700 MHz auction "before coordinating with Congress on developing a thoughtful plan to reauction the D block."

Another congressman, Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., said he plans to examine whether "a need for a high reserve price continues to exist." The high reserve price kept some parties from bidding.

One problem haunting the formation of a national public-safety network is represented by the hundreds of local and regional public-safety networks, many of which look upon the D block as potential competition and interference.

The FCC has broken out the D block from the remaining 700-MHz spectrum blocks, segregating it for examination and hearings.

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