| CHICAGO, June 20
CHICAGO, June 20 One of the five members of the
U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday threw his
support behind a proposal that would require the winner of a
coming auction of valuable wireless airwaves to offer access to
Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, a Democrat, said he
supports the idea of imposing an "open-access" condition on
companies bidding to acquire part of the spectrum.
"We need to identify meaningful spectrum on which to
establish an open-access environment," Adelstein told Reuters,
expanding on remarks he made earlier at a telecommunications
industry conference. "This will open these key airwaves to
badly needed competition.
The FCC is preparing to auction a swath of wireless
airwaves in the 700 megahertz band, which are being returned by
broadcasters as they move from analog to digital signals early
The airwaves are considered valuable because they can
travel long distances and penetrate thick walls. The auction is
seen as the last opportunity for a new player to enter the
FCC officials are expected to hold the sale later this year
and are in the process of setting the auction rules.
The rules will be crucial for the five or six biggest
players like Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ.N) and AT&T Inc.
(T.N), that want to bolster their networks, as well as for
dozens of regional and local players.
An open-access requirement would allow other companies to
buy access on the winning bidder's network so they can offer
their own wireless services. The idea is being promoted by some
consumer advocacy groups, such as Consumers Union and the
non-profit Media Access Project.
Some small, start-up wireless companies have also pushed
the idea as a way of providing an alternative to the four large
nationwide carriers -- Verizon, AT&T, Sprint Nextel Corp. (S.N)
and T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGn.DE).
Verizon opposes an open-access requirement, arguing that it
would diminish the value of the spectrum and be a form of
The FCC is working within a tight timeframe as it must
begin the auction no later than Jan. 28, 2008 and deposit the
proceeds into the U.S. Treasury by June 30, 2008.