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Public safety agencies want D Block for themselves, FCC still seeking auction

Darren Murph

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The 700MHz 'D Block' has been the subject of much debate over the past few years, primarily because the FCC's master plan to auction it off -- yet require the winner to open up the waves for public safety use on command -- didn't exactly pan out. Post-failure, the agency made clear its plans to host up another auction or two in order to accomplish the same goal via slightly different means, but now public safety entities are coming forward with a healthy amount of opposition. Rob Davis, head of the San Jose Police Department, puts it bluntly: "If they auction this spectrum, we've lost it forever." These public safety officials also have allies in Congress, with many worried that auctioning off the spectrum may lead to an inability to accurately wield bandwidth in a hurry if needed during a national emergency. The FCC plan also alleviates the cost issue, but public advocates have a solution there as well -- they say that if given the 'D Block' outright, they could "lease excess airwaves to commercial carriers since they would not always need all of it." Of course, that's a pretty big assumption about the willingness of carriers to lease space, and we suspect a lot more back-and-forth will go on here in the coming months. Oh, the drama.

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