The FCC has just approved rules on the highly-sought after, Google-attracting 700MHz wireless frequency band auction
which will take place sometime next year. The agency has decided that one-third of the soon-to-be-empty band will be available to consumers under FCC chairman Kevin Martin's "open access
" plan, which forces the winning bidder to keep the band accessible to any wireless device or application regardless of the maker, opening up options heretofore unseen on established networks. The 700MHz range -- which is being vacated by television broadcasters going digital -- is desirable because of its ability to travel long distances and easily penetrate walls, and Martin feels it could provide a "third pipe" to US homes, circumventing the established stranglehold cable and telephone companies have on bandwidth. A total of 60 megahertz will be auctioned off, with twenty-two of them "open," and another 10 set aside for a "national public safety" network. The auctioning off of the frequency is expected to raise as much as $15 billion for the federal treasury.