Skip to main content

D Block Do-Over on FCC Agenda

Fresh from hearing the concerns of Congress about the FCC’s failure to get a minimum bid for the D Block of the 700 MHz spectrum, the commission will begin making rules for a re-auction expected later this year.

The D Block had some spectrum slated for a public-private partnership in which the licensee would build a network according to the specifications of a public safety trust, for public safety use in times of emergency. The arrangement brought no takers but did bring an FCC Inspector General investigation into allegations of illegal communications among involved parties.

FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin told reporters Thursday the notice of proposed rulemaking was expected to be approved by the commission at its May 14 meeting, launching the rulemaking process.

He described the new process as open-ended, with no tentative conclusions drawn about how to structure the auction. He said that absent new tools from Congress, a public-private partnership was “the most viable and only tool the commission has” to create a nationwide interoperable public safety network.

The frequencies are among those used for analog broadcasting and will be vacated when full-power stations cease analog operations in February 2009.