Senate Schedules FCC Spectrum Auction Hearing

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The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a June 14 hearing on the upcoming FCC auction of spectrum in the 700 mHZ band.

That is UHF spectrum being reclaimed from broadcasters in the transition to digital. The FCC wants to open the band up to advanced wireless services. It is considered prime real estate because the signals there are less affected by obstructions like buildings.

The commission is preparing to release rules about how the spectrum will be auctioned, including who can bid and how, and in what size chuncks the spectrum will be auctioned. The auction was a subject of interest in FCC oversight hearings on the Hill earlier this year.

Cable and phone companies want a piece of the action, while some anti-big media activists want to make sure that the spectrum does not go to the same big companies, but is available to smaller independents who will provide broadband video and voice competition.

The auction has to take place by January 2008, but FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is pushing for a fall start.

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