Print 7 comment(s) - last by Samus.. on Aug 2 at 8:05 PM

The FCC's plan for 700 MHz; sections in yellow have already been auctioned off and sections in gray are reserved for public safety services.  (Source:
The FCC's rules for the massive frequency auction falls short of including Google’s "four requirements"

Rules and procedures have been finalized for the FCC’s upcoming 700 MHz auction, with a date set for January 28, 2008. In a news release posted (PDF) to the FCC’s website on July 31, parts of the 700 MHz band not already auctioned off will be carved into several subsections under “upper” and “lower” bands, stretching from 698 to 806 MHz.

While the lower band is reserved entirely for commercial services, the upper band includes allocations for both commercial services and public safety agencies, and more importantly, includes special requirements mandating open access and interoperability.

Some of the commercial requirements include:

  • A 10-year license term.
  • New, tougher requirements to promote better access and improve the provision of service, especially in rural areas.
  • Within four years, licensees are required to provide coverage to at least 35-40 percent of their licensed area, with at least 70-75 percent coverage by the end of the license term, depending on the licensed area.
  • If licensees fail to meet their four-year requirements, the end-of-term requirements get pushed to eight years instead of ten.
  • If licensees fail to meet their end-of-term requirements, the FCC will automatically reclaim uncovered areas and make them available to other users.
  • For licenses in the upper band, licensees are required to provide a platform that is “more open to devices and applications,” allowing consumers their choice in applications and devices to connect with. This condition is “subject to certain reasonable network management conditions that allow the licensee to protect the network from harm.”

While the rules fall short of Google’s lofty “four requirements,” they represent a suitable middle ground for wireless operators -- who wanted no requirements -- and a positive development for US consumers, whose only wireless options currently consist of tightly controlled services.

The “open platform” requirement was introduced last month, first surfacing as a vague set of rules from FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. On July 9, Google CEO Eric Schmidt wrote Martin with a specific plan that expanded the FCC’s rules, which Google saw as weak. In the letter, Google suggested four specific requirements, which included a controversial “wholesale” clause that network service be available to resellers on a wholesale basis. While Martin expressed reservations about Google’s proposal, he remained optimistic about the FCC’s plan, going so far as to call the 700 MHz band a “third pipe” alternative to America’s current cable/DSL duopoly.

Bidding will be anonymous, with bidders’ identities withheld until the auction’s close.

Finnish cell phone manufacturer Nokia applauded the decision, calling it “an important step towards meeting consumer demand and driving further innovation,” in a press release made public on Tuesday. “We commend the FCC and Chairman Martin for taking the initiative to promote even greater competition and innovation in the U.S. wireless industry,” said Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo.

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cell phone carriers
By wizord on 8/2/2007 9:26:20 AM , Rating: 2
i hope this turns into an alternative to cell phones...i'd really like to hand them one

RE: cell phone carriers
By sdsdv10 on 8/2/2007 12:26:35 PM , Rating: 2
I second that!

RE: cell phone carriers
By jak3676 on 8/2/2007 12:43:16 PM , Rating: 2
More likely just a sepeate spectrum for them to operate on, but who knows. The major bidders will be the current cell phone companies and google.

The one thing thing that was missed in the article was that the winning bid for the restriced airwaves must be at least 4.6 billion otherwise the restrictions will be removed and they will be reauctioned. Google had promiced to bid at least 5 billion if their 4 conditions were met, but they were not so it may be up to google to figure out if they will bid on this as is. I would expect many of the current wireless carriers to avoid bidding on the restriced areas in hopes of eliminateing the restrictions.

RE: cell phone carriers
By TomCorelis on 8/2/2007 2:29:01 PM , Rating: 2
Everyone seems to think it's going to turn into an alternative ISP. If it does, then we may not have "alternative cell-phones" but we may have wireless VoIP handsets that act like cell phones :-)

RE: cell phone carriers
By omnicronx on 8/2/2007 4:13:24 PM , Rating: 2
I heard it would only be an alternative to those living in rural areas, and urban areas would remain unchanged.

Educate me.
By IckesTheSane on 8/2/2007 4:16:14 PM , Rating: 2
I'm a little confused as to why the 700 MHz band would be a good 'third pipe' for internet access. Here's my understanding of wireless technologies:

The higher a frequency, the more data it can carry, while a lower frequency carries less data, but is more effective at traveling through objects, and so travels farther.

Current Wifi technologies operate on the 2.4 GHz band, for B and G, at least. Are manufacturers going to make up the inherent speed differences by compression, MIMO, other techniques, etc?

I can see how this band would be good for cell phones, and their networks, but how can it compete with a high speed connection like DSL or cable?

RE: Educate me.
By Samus on 8/2/2007 8:05:42 PM , Rating: 2
speed doesn't matter, availibility does. 700MHz spectrum is infinately more availible than even 900MHz, let alone 2.4GHz+.

If your maximum throughput is 10kbps, that's fine, it's enough to send email, load up a map or location, and even lightly surf the web (in mostly text form.)

And the idea is, IT WILL BE FREE.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

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