Stevens: No 700-megahertz delay


Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) plans to introduce a bill making the point that
receipts from the Federal Communications Commission's upcoming auctions of the
700-megahertz spectrum band need to be in to the U.S. Treasury by Sept. 30.

This notion actually already is in the law, which is the problem FCC chairman
Michael Powell keeps noting, but Stevens wants to counter the efforts of House
Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.).

Tauzin last week introduced a bill to delay the auctions indefinitely, and
Stevens, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, wants
the auction to be held.

"Stevens wants to be on the record requiring the auctions to go on as
planned," one of his staffers said, "and we oppose any effort to delay the
auction one more time."

The FCC plans to auction channels 60 through 69 and 52 through 59 -- residents
in the 700-MHz strip -- this June.

The 60-through-69 auctions have already been delayed five times, and the Bush
administration and most of the House Energy and Commerce Committee want them
delayed again, saying that the market isn't ready.

Meanwhile, wireless companies and Paxson Communications Corp. are pushing
hard for the auctions to be held -- Paxson because it stands to earn millions of
dollars in payoffs from wireless companies that want the band cleared of
television stations as soon as possible.

Stevens is encouraged in no small part by one of his constituent companies,
Alaskan Native Wireless, which wants to use the spectrum to launch
broadband-wireless services such as high-speed Internet to cellular phones and even
TV phones, "like on The Jetsons," the staffer says. "That's it for delays. Five
is enough."