Last updated: September 15, 2008 - 8:56pm
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin unveiled a new plan to auction valuable airwaves to foster interoperable public-safety/commercial communications around the country. The proposal takes nationwide and regional licensing approaches, and retains a public-private partnership approach and advances other reforms sought in the aftermath of the agency's failed attempt to find a taker for the national first-responder/commercial D-Block license earlier this year. Chairman Martin is pushing for an FCC vote on the revamped D-Block proposal at the agency's Sept 25 open meeting. The five-member, Republican-controlled commission would not be voting on the proposal itself, but would put it out for public comment on a fast-track basis. Chairman Martin said the FCC could adopt final rules by year's end and hold the re-auction sometime between April and June. If revamped D-Block rules remain unsettled by next year — when a new administration takes over — there's a possibility for more changes and more delay. With the 700 MHz spectrum becoming available by mid-February after the digital TV transition is completed, Chairman Martin said time is of the essence.