Chairman Martin endorses expanded spectrum auction

Kevin Martin, the FCC chairman, last week endorsed the ideal of public-private partnerships to aid in building a new wireless network that can be used by emergency personnel.

Commercial spectrum used for analog broadcasting — to end in 2009 — is set for auction later this year. One of the goals of the commission is to generate broadband market competition beyond existing telco and cable operators.

In a speech to a civic group at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus, Martin supported the idea that advances in technology could allow emergency workers to take advantage of commercial network equipment and capacity. In exchange, emergency workers could allow commercial phone carriers to use part of the airwaves reserved for public safety workers at noncritical times.

“One of the things that I think we need to do is [to consider] the potential to have some synergies between the two, some public-private partnerships that would allow for cross-utilization of the spectrum,” Martin was quoted by Reuters.

The FCC will soon set rules for the auction. Many proposals from a wide range of groups have been sent to the commission for consideration.