Frontline Wireless Bites the Dust

Unable to raise funding to bid in the FCC wireless spectrum auction, the wireless company calls it quits. 

Frontline Wireless, the ambitious wireless startup with plans to bid in the Jan. 24 Federal Communications Commission spectrum auction, is no more, according to company spokesperson Mary Greczyn.

"Frontline is closed for business at this time. We have no further comment," Greczyn said in a brief statement to eWEEK.

Led by industry veterans and public policy leaders, Frontline Wireless, based in Greensboro, N.C., made a big splash in Washington in 2007 with its proposal to build a public/private network that would serve both public safety and consumers.

Frontline's proposal called for carving out 10MHz of the 60MHz up for auction and then combining that block with the 24MHz already dedicated to a public safety network. First responders would have priority access to the network in national emergencies.

Along with Google, Frontline Wireless also pressured the FCC to adopt open access rules for part of the spectrum up for sale. The FCC largely adopted most of the suggestions by Google and Frontline Wireless when it issued the rules for the auction.

As late as last month, Frontline Wireless said it planned to bid on the spectrum that will be up for sale later this month. The spectrum block coveted by Frontline Wireless required an upfront payment of $128 million.

"We are bidding to win and to put into operation the principle of open access and the shared public safety network that we've championed from the beginning," Greczyn told eWEEK Dec. 3.

In the end, the price appeared to be too steep for Frontline Wireless. The New York Times quoted an unnamed source claiming the company was unable to raise funding to meet the minimum bid price.

Frontline Wireless was founded with high hopes by Janice Obuchowski, former head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration under President George H.W. Bush; Haynes Griffin, the founder of Vanguard Cellular; and Reed Hundt, the former FCC chairman.

The company's financial backers included former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale, venture capitalists John Doerr and Ram Shriram, and software radio technology innovator Vanu Bose.