It's still not entirely clear how it'll be used, but there's one thing about the FCC's upcoming 700MHz auction that we now know for sure: it'll go down on January 16 of next year. The feds look to sell off a grand total of 1,099 licenses freed by the approaching end of analog television broadcasting divided into five distinct blocks. So-called Blocks A and E cover the FCC's Economic Areas, 176 distinct subdivisions of the US and its territories. Block B is divided into the smaller Cellular Market Areas category, 734 in total. Block D -- intended for use by public safety workers -- is nationwide, meaning just one license will be offered spanning the nation. Finally, the controversial Block C -- the public access spectrum everyone's been in a tizzy over -- is being offered as 12 regional covering the entire country. As with any huge FCC spectrum offage, this sale promises to generate some corporate fireworks, public discussion, and mudslinging, so we're marking our calendars and crossing our fingers that CSPAN will cover all the wild action live. [Warning: PDF link]

[Via Phone Scoop]

Update: It turns out that the 12-region Block C is destined for open access, not the single-license Block D. Block D is intended for public safety use. We've corrected the text of the post above. Our apologies!

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It's on: FCC sets 700MHz spectrum auction for January 16, 2008