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New plan for the 700 MHz D Block

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about the 700 MHz auction. That’s mainly because everything is said and done. We’re not going to see much in terms of new network coverage, since the big players are planning to use it for LTE, which we won’t see for a few years. Metro PCS is one of the exceptions, as it plans to roll out the Boston license it acquired in the auction sometime early next year. ANYWAY, we’re now hearing that the FCC has a new plan to auction the D Block. You know, that one reserved for public safety, but didn’t meet the reserve price.

The idea is to split it up into regional licenses. Only there’s still a chance to get the whole license in one, cheaper, bid. I’ll let Ars Technica explain:

One of the two parallel auctions that the agency plans to hold aims to sell the D Block to a single bidder who will run both a commercial service and share the spectrum with public safety agencies via a leasing system. This time the FCC has reduced the minimum asking price to 750 million dollars, far less than the previous reserve bidding level of $1.33 billion.

But on top of that, the FCC will run another auction in parallel, this time for 58 regional licenses. Bidders will have the option of competing for the licenses in a WiMax or LTE environment. The agency’s new rules also propose that the auction cannot succeed unless the regional players collectively pony up more money than the national bid raises.

If, however, the national bid fails again to attract that minimal reserve price, then the auction becomes by default a competition between regional WiMax and LTE. Whichever license system produces bids that serve the most population or raise the most money will become the preferred platform for the regional licenses, as long as at least 50 percent of those licenses are sold nationally.

If that sounds too complex, well, it is. Normally I’d rewrite that stuff in my own words, but I can’t even fake knowing what I’m talking about. There’s also a long, complex, bureaucratic procedure for getting this plan approved. Chances are, it will undergo a few more mutations before becoming official.