A report released last Friday by the FCC concludes tentatively that advanced wireless service (AWS) operations in the 2155-2180 MHz band would not pose a significant risk of interference to licensed AWS facilities in the 2110-2155 MHz band, thus paving the way towards the adoption of FCC rules that would mandate a free, nationwide wireless broadband network in the 2155-2180 MHz band. The report is based on tests conducted last month by the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET), which was tasked with assessing the potential for harmful interference from AWS-3 (i.e., 2155-2180 MHz) operations to 2110-2155 MHz AWS-1 licenses that were auctioned in 2006. Under a proposal advocated by M2Z Networks, Inc. and supported by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, the AWS-3 band would be auctioned on a nationwide basis to an entity that would be required to reserve a portion of that spectrum for a free wireless broadband network that would reach half of the U.S. population within four years and 95% after ten years. As a consequence of the release of Friday’s OET report, observers say that rules could be adopted by early next year, leading to an auction of the AWS-3 band by mid-2009. Noting that interference analyses conducted in Seattle were based on a “static case where all the elements are assumed to be fixed,” the OET said test results demonstrate “that an AWS-1 and AWS-3 device operating in close proximity [do] not necessarily result in interference.” When factoring in actual operating conditions under nonstatic conditions, the OET added that, “the situation only improves.” Although M2Z CEO John Muleta proclaimed that the OET study “confirms our long-held belief that two-way broadband services in [the] AWS-3 [band] will not cause harmful interference to adjacent bands,” TMobile USA—a winner of 120 AWS-1 licenses in the 2006 auction—cast doubt on the OET’s findings, as it maintained: “we have serious concerns that [the OET] analysis is flawed and relies on factors that were not the subject of the testing, while ignoring other important data in the record.” Voicing concern that “the result was predetermined unfairly,” T-Mobile Regulatory Affairs Vice President Kathleen Ham promised: “we and the multiple parties concerned about interference will strongly urge the FCC to provide for sufficient time for comment on their report before any FCC action on these rules.”