In a shocker that could force the FCC to rewrite its spectrum auction rules, including those for broadcast channels, a federal court ruled that the agency violated bankruptcy laws when it repossessed wireless licenses from NextWave.
NextWave won 90 licenses at auction in 1996 but was unable to pay the $4.7 billion bid. The spectrum was reauctioned in January to several major carriers in a larger block that garnered $17 billion.
The FCC can appeal Friday's decision but has said it will return the spectrum to NextWave if it ultimately loses the court fight.
- Bill McConnell