FCC To Try First Responder Spectrum Auction Again

The FCC is again trying to generate interest in the spectrum auction that will be the basis for a national emergency communications network. The agency’s first attempt failed to attract the minimum $1.3 Billion bid, with industry suggesting the construction of the network would run into the tens of billions of dollars and was both too expensive and too risky. The new proposal is reported to have several changes including an opening bid about half of the previous auction, longer lead times for the network build-out and the possibility of bidding on local licenses rather than a single national license. Big city first responders have been suggesting the local license approach, suggesting that the commercial potential of the spectrum in an urban area would provide the capital for the build out of the emergency network city by city. Finding an economic model that would cover the costs of building the system in rural areas has been the concern and if the FCC’s new proposal allows for local licenses, rest assured that small town America will have to wait a while before the network comes to their town. With the 7th anniversary of 9-11 just passed and the FCC efforts to develop a national first responder system stuck in the starting gate, onlookers wonder if these shifts in the FCC proposal are enough to jump start this needed but sadly lagging effort.