During a Capitol Hill panel discussion hosted by the New America Foundation, broadband industry advocates
urged the FCC to enact new strategies during the upcoming 700 MHz auction to encourage the development of a
third major nationwide broadband pipeline to challenge cable and DSL providers, warning that current FCC
auction rules enable incumbents to solidify their current market position and to shut out competitors. Pursuant to
Congressional mandate, the FCC is required by early next year to auction 700 MHz spectrum that is being vacated
by analog TV broadcasters as part of the DTV transition. The agency is expected to issue licensing and auction
rules for the 700 MHz band in a matter of weeks. Citing his recently-completed study of last year’s advanced
wireless service auction, economist Gregory Rose called for the adoption of a closed or anonymous bidding format
for the 700 MHz event that would discourage retaliatory bidding and other blocking tactics used by large
incumbent carriers. Frontline Wireless urged the FCC to enact smaller license blocks (i.e., 10 MHz instead of 20
MHz) for the 700 MHz auction on grounds that larger blocks favor incumbents, and along with Google and other
groups voiced support for open access rules that would require auction winners to provide competitors with access
to their spectrum on a wholesale basis. A representative of Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group, said
that such a requirement would enable a nearly unlimited number of competitors to offer wireless broadband
services. As Rose maintained that “saying ‘let the market decide’ amounts to saying ‘let the people with market
power decide,’” Media Access Project vice president Harold Feld predicted, “if we take the [auction] rules we’ve
used for the last 10 years, the same incumbents are going to win.”