FCC expects 700MHz 'D Block' to see auction in 2011

Birds fly, grass grows, and the FCC auctions off wireless spectrum. It's just one of those inevitable facts of life. In 2008, the Commission sure sold plenty of the stuff, with both AT&T and Verizon trading billions of dollars for enough building-penetrating 700MHz bandwidth to start LTE networks (that's 4G, vaquero!) as early as next year. One huge chunk of spectrum didn't sell, however: the infamous Block 'D,' subject to a unique FCC mandate that required it to be shared with first responders and government agencies for public safety. Last we heard, 'D' was in limbo awaiting a new auction, but Reuters reports that said wait may be nearly over. According to Jamie Barnett, the FCC's Chief of Public Safety, the entity could test the waters as early as this summer, and start Auction 76 in earnest by Q1 or Q2 of 2011. Who might bid at that late date is still uncertain -- would-be 4G competitors will be way behind Verizon and AT&T by that time -- but it seems a mighty fine idea for paramedic phones to work while buried under rubble, regardless.