Auction over, FCC ponders public safety D block

Bidding has closed on the great 700 MHz auction and the FCC has raised $20 billion from the spectrum given so long ago to the great television networks of the past. That's $4.

Bidding has closed on the great 700 MHz auction and the FCC has raised $20 billion from the spectrum given so long ago to the great television networks of the past. That's $4.75 billion for the prized C block, but no word yet on who the ultimate winner is. Pretty much nobody thinks Google made the winning bid: most of the betting money is on Verizon, but AT&T may have showed up to the party, too.

Completely unsettled, though, is the troubled D block, which the FCC is committed to using for public safety networks. The only serious proposal for the D block was from Frontline Wireless, and that deal fell apart when they couldn't get financing.

So the FCC needs to figure out what to do with D block and until it does, it ain't naming the winners on the other blocks, PC World reports.

The high (and only) bid so far is $472 million, far short of the minimum the FCC has set. One analyst suggested the FCC take the money and run; another player said public safety should negotiate with any private sector firm it can.

Rep. Ed Markey called for a change in the FCC's approach:

I believe that any new auction for the 'D block' should be consistent with an overarching policy goal of advancing public safety objectives and ultimately achieving a state-of-the-art, broadband infrastructure for first responders. In developing a plan for a re-auction of the 'D block,' the FCC should also take into account the auction results to gauge the level of new competition achieved. Policymakers should also analyze whether a need for a high reserve price continues to exist.

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