Harold Feld on 700MHz



Would ya like to know what kinda conversation goes
On while they’re loafin’ around that Hall?
They’re tryin’ out Bevo, tryin’ out cubebs,
Tryin’ out Tailor Mades like cigarette fiends!
The Music Man

Professor Harold Feld, Senior Vice President of the Media Access Project, a non-profit public law firm representing the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition, has an in-depth explanation of the 700 MHz auction, in MuniWireless today.

Frontline Wireless, a Silicon Valley-backed start up organized for this one purpose, has proposed that the FCC create a 10 MHz “E Block” license on spectrum compatible with shared use by the proposed Public Safety Trust licensee.

The winner of the E Block would agree to build the proposed national broadband network for the PST.

In addition, the PST would have access to the E Block spectrum on an as needed basis – taking priority over any commercial traffic using the E Block spectrum. In exchange, Frontline (assuming it won the E Block at auction) would have the right to negotiate with the Public Safety Trust licensee for access to the PST spectrum when not in use by public safety entities. This would give public safety access to 22 MHz of spectrum when needed, while allowing Frontline to use idle public safety spectrum when available.

What makes Frontline potentially valuable to municipal operators (beyond the public safety applications), is that Frontline has urged the FCC to prohibit the E Block licensee from selling retail wireless services.

Instead, Frontline would lease access to the E Block (and available PST) spectrum on a non-discriminatory wholesale basis, a condition known as “open access.” While the FCC already allows most licensees to lease spectrum on a voluntary basis under its “secondary market rules,” few holders of valuable licenses have elected to make spectrum available in this way – particularly not to rival operators. Under Frontline’s proposed open access rule, the E Block winner would have no choice. As a result, up to 22 MHz of extremely valuable spectrum – already interoperable with public safety systems – would become available for lease for wireless operators everywhere.

“Open access” — which had previously been the rule in the wireline world before the FCC deregulated in 2005 — would require the licensee to make spectrum available on an affordable and non-discriminatory basis. Frontline or any other E-Block winner could not cut exclusive deals with large incumbents. Its business model depends on leasing supplementary spectrum to as many customers as possible, such as municipal operators.

While not enough spectrum to construct a system, Frontline hopes that operators will use the unique characteristics of the band to fill in holes created by geography or urban topography, and facilitate mobile and nomadic uses on point-to-point networks.

For those who wish to participate, the FCC will take comments until May 23, and reply comments until May 30. Although the FCC will take late comments, the FCC must decide on the final rules soon after May 30 to meet the timeline imposed by the statute. Those who plan to file should therefore do so sooner rather than later. You can filed a comment with the FCC through the FCC’s electronic comment filing system. The docket number for this proceeding is 06-150. . .

Feld overlooked a 700 pound gorilla — Google.

Business Week explains how Google is Going Wireless through the Coalition for 4G in America, along with eBay, Skype, Yahoo, Intel, DirecTV, EchoStar and others.

The FCC issued a report on Apr. 27 that seems to favor many of the coalition’s proposals. “We need a real, third broadband competitor,” Martin said. “The leading technology companies—Google, Intel, Skype, Yahoo, along with DirecTV, and EchoStar—are the only parties that have promised to try to provide a national, wireless broadband alternative.”

Related Dailywireless stories on 700 MHz include; FCC Indecisive on 700MHz, FCC Decides on 700MHz Rules Today, Small Ops Squeezed Out of 700MHz?, General Dynamics Wins IWN Contract, Nextwave Buys IP-Wireless, Consumers to FCC: 700MHz Democracy Now!, Frontline Files 700MHz Plan with FCC, 700MHz in 10 Steps, National Broadband: Fee & Free, and FCC to Rural Users: 700MHz is the Ticket.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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