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Alltel looks ahead to 700 MHz auction.

Alltel Corp. outlined recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission for rules regarding the imminent auction of 700 MHz spectrum in a filing last week.

Alltel offered four main proposals in the filing:

* That the FCC should adopt a band plan that includes multiple license blocks with smaller geographic areas in the upper and lower 700 MHz bands. This proposal is essentially a restatement of Alltel's belief that smaller license areas allows more participation in the auction, specifically by regional carriers, and could increase rural wireless broadband deployment.

* That the FCC should reject the proposal by Frontline Wireless, cofounded by former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, to designate a 10 MHz E block in the upper 700 MHz for a commercial licensee that would construct and operate a nationwide broadband network to be shared with public safety users. Alltel labels the proposal as "self-serving."

"Indeed, it is nothing more than a speculative business plan that purports to deliver numerous public interest benefits without making real commitments to the public safety community," the company said.

* That the FCC should modify its competitive bidding procedures, including allowing full access to bidding information. While auctions in the past have allowed for anonymous bids to be placed, "at a minimum," Alltel said, "the Commission should reveal the eligibility of each bidder after each round while withholding the identity of each bidder placing a bid."

* That the FCC should consider imposing "bid premiums" on bidders affiliated with incumbent local exchange carriers. These carriers--specifically AT&T and Verizon--"are virtually the only carriers that possess the physical facilities to offer 'one-stop shopping' for voice, data and wireless service, and have a broadband monopoly or duopoly in most markets ... Such a bid premium would act as an effective disincentive to warehousing of 700 MHz spectrum and would promote greater competition in the provision of broadband services," Alltel said.

The auction of highly-coveted 700 MHz spectrum has been lauded by experts as a watershed moment in the telecommunication industry. Signals transmitted at 700 MHz radiate in a wide circle and can penetrate buildings, which means a network that operates on 700 MHz would require fewer cell towers and cost less to build.

Also, the robustness of 700 MHz spectrum opens the door for highspeed data, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) and video applications.

Although the FCC has still not scheduled the auction, it will have to begin before Jan. 28, according to congressional mandate.
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Title Annotation:Inside Business
Author:Gordon, James
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jun 4, 2007
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