The US Federal Communications Commission will re-auction the D-Block after failing to produce a buyer to meet its reserve price of US$1.3 billion.
The 700 MHz spectrum auction brought in nearly $20 billion for the U.S. Treasury, however the D-Block, or public safety spectrum only garnered one bid of $472 million, well below its minimum reserve price.
The public safety spectrum was auctioned under the condition that the winning bidder would build out an interoperable national communications network for police, fire and other emergency first responders. The public safety network would enable police, fire crews and federal law enforcement around the nation to trade video and calls with one another.
US Congress and the FCC have been pushing for this after the communication problems following the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Now FCC Chief Kevin Martin has announced that the D-block will be re-auctioned with new terms that may be more attractive to potential bidders.
Under the new proposal, the block will be auctioned with a minimum reserve price of $750 million, nearly half the previous reserve price. The agency hopes to auction the spectrum as one national block of radio spectrum, however the agency said it will consider selling it as 58 separate regional airwaves licenses if it does not meet the minimum reserve price.
"The FCC also relaxed the build-out requirements and extended the build-out period from 10 years to 15," said Kevin Martin in a press conference. The deadline to build the network would extend to 15 years from 10 years, and any lease charges from public safety officials would be capped at $5 million a year.
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