"The auction also failed to produce a much-needed competitor to the phone
and cable giants," Scott said in an e-mail. "Since Verizon -- winner
of the C Block -- is already a dominant provider of DSL, the prospect of a genuine
third pipe from the wireless world is now slim to none."
On Thursday, the FCC voted to de-link the so-called D block from the rest of
the auction results. The D block was a 10MHz block that was to be paired with
another 10MHz controlled by public safety agencies, and the winning bidder would
have been required to build a nationwide voice and data network to serve both
public safety and commercial needs. But the FCC failed to receive its $1.33
billion minimum bid for the D block, with the lone $472 million bid coming from
The FCC has no plans to immediately re-auction the D block, a spokeswoman said.
Instead, the agency "will consider its options for how to license this
spectrum in the future," the FCC said in a news release.
Many members of Congress pushed for a public safety network after emergency
responders couldn't communicate with each other during the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks and more recent disasters. Police and fire departments in neighboring
cities often use different communication devices on different blocks of spectrum.
Many telecom experts see the 700MHz spectrum, which U.S. television stations
are required to abandon by February 2009, as optimal for long-range wireless
broadband services. Wireless signals in the 700MHz band travel three to four
times farther and penetrate obstacles such as buildings more easily than wireless
signals in higher spectrum bands.
Other auction winners included Triad 700, a Silicon Valley startup, which won
spectrum covering Alaska, Puerto Rico, eastern Maryland and northwestern Pennsylvania.
Frontier Wireless, a Colorado-based subsidiary of EchoStar Communications, and
Cavalier Wireless, which has bid in past FCC auctions, won several licenses
in small cities and rural areas.