Asserting that “we don’t want to set the table unless we know someone’s going to come to dinner,” FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein told an audience that he would be hesitant to approve a nationwide license block for the upcoming 700 MHz auction unless he could be assured that at least one serious bidder would commit to that block. In a speech before the Wireless Communications Association International annual trade show in Washington this week, Adelstein said that he favors making the 700 MHz band available to “a really diverse group of licensees,” based upon smaller license blocks, that would encourage the competitive entry of small wireless providers. In accordance with Congressional directives, the FCC is required by January 28, 2008 to conduct auctions of 700 MHz channels that will be reclaimed from analog television broadcasters. Nearly 60 MHz of spectrum will be made available for wireless use, and key players in the wireless industry are looking toward the 700 MHz band to create a third national broadband pipe that will compete against cable modem and DSL services. Frontline Wireless, which hopes to deploy a hybrid national broadband network to serve public safety and commercial entities, has asked the FCC to consider rules that would pair a 10 MHz “E” block in the 700 MHz band with 12 MHz of adjacent public safety channels for a nationwide license. Another group seeking to build a nationwide network, the Coalition for 4G in America, had endorsed a plan that would pair two 11 MHz blocks in the upper 700 MHz band on a regional economic area grouping basis. (Members of the coalition include Access Spectrum LLC, DirecTV, EchoStar, Google, Intel, Skype Communications and Yahoo.) Notwithstanding the desire of these groups to create a nationwide license, Adelstein took a cautious tone as he declared: “we need to see that there’s significant interest in a nationwide license by a new entrant.” Noting “I’ve not seen particularly a large amount of energy behind a new national broadband player” on Wall Street, Adelstein added: “all indications that I’ve seen are that it’s going to be very difficult for any player to put together a competitive bid for a nationwide license . . . other than the incumbents themselves.”