FCC Delays Spectrum AuctionAgain
The Federal Communications Commission postpones the auction of the entangled 700MHz frequencies for the sixth time.Waiting until the last minute before wireless companies were required to deposit hefty sums of cash to hold their places in the next big spectrum auction, the Federal Communications Commission postponed the auction of the entangled 700MHz frequencies late last Friday for the sixth time. Bowing to the demands of the wireless industry, the FCC delayed the auction, previously scheduled to open June 19, until Jan. 14, 2003. The commission long ago dismissed a direct mandate from Congress to deposit the auctions proceeds in the U.S. Treasury by September 2000. As eWEEK reported last week, the latest postponement was not entirely unanticipated given the commissions historic inability to set the schedule for this spectrum auction with certainty. FCC Chairman Michael Powell had earlier indicated that he did not intend to delay the auction for a sixth time without a new mandate from Congress. The House of Representatives passed a bill this month directing the commission to delay the auction indefinitely, but conflicting bills are pending in the Senate. In a prepared statement, Powell said he saw a compelling reason to give lawmakers more time to resolve the matter with new legislation.
"I have reluctantly concluded that the best course is for the commission to temporarily delay the auction of the Upper 700MHz band until Jan. 14, 2003," Powell said. "While we cannot be sure of the ultimate outcome, the potentially imminent prospect that Congress may wish to change its policy gives me pause."