As the much-anticipated auction of the 700MHz band spectrum draws near, phone carrier AT&T and startup Frontline Wireless have become the latest of a handful of potential bidders to ask the FCC to reconsider some of the auction rules.
Unlike Verizon, which has gone to court in an attempt to have the two open access conditions mandated by the FCC overturned, AT&T wants the FCC to reconsider some of the rules governing winners of the D Block, which consists of two 5MHz sections that will be used for both public safety and commercial traffic. AT&T wants the commission to require, among other things, that public safety requirements are clearly specified prior to the auction.
For its part, Frontline is worried that the spectrum auction could "result in excessive concentration in spectrum holdings," and is asking the commission to ensure that current wireless carriers do not dominate the auction. Frontline is asking the FCC (again) to require that the winner of a portion of spectrum be forced to offer other providers access to the network at wholesale prices. Such a requirement would discourage the dominant wireless carriers from bidding. In addition, Frontline also suggested the reserve prices for two blocks of spectrum are too high, further restricting small businesses to bid in the auction.
The spectrum auction will begin in January and is expected to draw bids from established telecom players such as Verizon and AT&T as well as and other tech firms such as Google.