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FCC sets date for 700MHz sale

The US communications regulator, the FCC has set aside the date of January 16, 2008, for the much anticipated auction of 700MHz wireless spectrum.

The FCC is required to auction off the spectrum in the 700MHz band no later than January 28. The auction is now officially known as Auction 73 and the regulator will be seeking public comment on the proposal through to the end of this month.

Earlier this month, the FCC revised its 700MHz band plan and service rules to facilitate the availability of “new and innovative wireless broadband services for consumers.”

Google is one of the biggest backers of open access rights for the spectrum, calling for the spectrum to be used to stimulate more competition in the broadband space.

And while the FCC’s revised auction rules go some way to realising that aim, they stopped short of fulfilling all Google’s demands.

Under the compromise rules, companies that buy the spectrum will have to let customers download and use any device on the network, and access any application, provided they meet certain requirements.

But the auction rules do not support Google’s open services demand, which would allow resellers to acquire wireless services from a 700MHz licensee on a wholesale basis; and open networks, which would allow third parties to interconnect at any technically feasible point in a 700MHz licensee’s wireless network.

The 700MHz band of radio spectrum, is currently occupied by television broadcasters but will be refarmed and auctioned off as part of the switchover to digital broadcasting.

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