In tight times, FCC pushes forward with emergency network

With the greatest credit crunch since the 1930s in full swing, this is perhaps not the greatest time to sell your house. Or your airwaves.

With the greatest credit crunch since the 1930s in full swing, this is perhaps not the greatest time to sell your house. Or your airwaves. But the FCC is not dissuaded. The agency is pushing ahead with an attempt to get private investors to foot the bill on a public emergency network, as well as auctioning off spectrum devoted to free wireless Internet, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The auction for the emergency network failed to get off the ground earlier this year and the FCC is considering dropping the minimum bid from $1.3 billion to $750 million. Michael Powell, son of Colin Powell and former FCC chairman, said the plan seems like a "tall order" in the current environment.

There are charges current chairman Kevin Martin is pushing the rule-setting timetable to get this done while he's still chairman.

Mr. Martin proposed a three-week deadline for public comment, an aggressive timetable but one that would ensure final rules would be set while he is still chairman. FCC officials say they can set rules for the auctions and delay them until lending conditions improve.
But how long will that take?
"We've just seen the most radical transformation of the credit market in the last 80 years. That doesn't smooth itself out and we go back to the glory days in six months," says Roger Entner, Nielsen IAG's senior vice president of communications research.

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