FCC auction raises record and doubts

March 19, 2008 at 8:46 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) -- A Federal Communications Commission auction Tuesday raised a record in dollars but failed to sell critical public safety airwaves known as D Block.

The sold airwaves raised $19.6 billion, more than the sum raised from all previous radio airwave auctions, FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin said.

Analysts reportedly wondered if the price of those airwaves was so high only large carriers, such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless could compete, thus limiting business competition.

Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunication Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., said he was concerned that the airwaves set aside for a joint private and public safety venture failed to generate a minimum bid.

Markey called for a full review of the "public safety spectrum trust" questioning if the format for the D Block auction should be "retained or modified," The Washington Post reported.

Telecommunications industry lawyer Rick Joyce told the paper the minimum price for D Block was too high, given the estimated $5 billion to $7 billion it would take to complete it.

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